iPhone 3.0 Gets Rush Of Business Software Support
Oracle, SAP, Sybase, and Workday are acknowledging the growing use of iPhones in business with new applications and development kits.
Apple's beta release of its iPhone 3.0 software Tuesday has created a rush of support from business software vendors of all disciplines.
The Apple iPhone has been largely waved off as a consumer device and inappropriate for business, but that's starting to change. Business software companies are increasingly building applications for the iPhone, and one of the world's largest consumer-goods company, Kraft Foods, has embraced the iPhone as an employee business tool.
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Workday, a provider of hosted business software, plans to post an application on the Apple App Store within a week that will let customers tap into their human resources and financial systems from iPhones. Sybase, which earlier this month released a mobile client "in-box" for e-mail, data security, and business processes for Windows and Symbian devices, plans to post an iPhone version on the App Store next week. And Oracle now has five apps on the App Store; the most successful one, for accessing Oracle business intelligence software, has been downloaded by nearly 44,000 iPhone users.
At Kraft Foods, the IT department has made it possible for employees to access their e-mail, contacts and calendars in Microsoft Outlook, by creating a link into Kraft's e-mail servers via the Microsoft ActiveSync technology. Supporting employees' use of the iPhone keeps Kraft relevant, said VP of IS David Diedrich. "Devices like the iPhone reinforce to people that we are an innovative company and culture," Diedrich said in an interview.
Still, many companies remain uncomfortable about the iPhone for business use, and it's typically not considered a candidate among the devices supported for mobile enterprise strategies that call for employees to perform important, everyday business functions from their smartphones. Nor has Apple gotten serious about the enterprise market -- it offers a utility for configuring network and e-mail settings on iPhones, but doesn't offer the type of server-based device management and mobile security software offered by Research In Motion for large BlackBerry deployments.
But with so many executives and employees bringing their own iPhones to work, software vendors are now making it easier for their customers to support those employees.