New apps make iPhone a business accessory

The Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone is becoming one of this seasons most fashionable and functional business accessories for both small and large-sized businesses as more software solution firms launch Apple Apps designed to improve productivity and mobility for business users.

Software solution group, Softtalk, based in the United Kingdom, released the iPhone’s first spreadsheet application last month, allowing millions of Microsoft Excel users to input and export data on the go.

The application, called Spreadsheet, includes a scrollable view, along with cell formatting options, mathematical and statistical functions and copy-cut-paste operations. Users can easily export their data via email to external spreadsheet applications. The application costs $7.99 to download and is available only through the online Apple apps store.

Softtalk CEO Simon Bates said the iPhone’s popularity as a business tool had been growing rapidly since iPhone 2.0 introduced Microsoft Exchange compatibility but has desperately lacked certain office applications, such as a spreadsheet.

“Judging by the sales we’re already getting, there is certainly a market for spreadsheets on the iPhone,” he said. “Windows Mobile provides Pocket Excel, and so why shouldn’t the iPhone have a similar application?”

Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) is putting its efforts into improving the mobility of enterprise; adding iPhone and iPod Touch with 2.0 firmware functionality with Notify Link Enterprise Edition to Novell Groupwise. Employees will now be able to access their Novell Groupwise email, contact book and calendar from any location.

Shawne Robinson, product manager of mobile and wireless at IBM (NYSE: IBM) said enterprise trends show mobility device usage growing by leaps and bounds. Within IBM alone, 40 per cent of employees are mobile workers who work from home and several locations.

“This creates new challenges for IT organizations to ensure productivity with mobility,”Robinson said.

IBM responded to the challenge this past August by expanding its Lotus Notes product line with the launch of iNotes ultralite for the iPhone. Lotus iNotes is a web client that allows users to access their email, calendar and contacts.

The product is run through the web browser Safari and comes free with IBM’s new Lotus Notes Software 8.0.2, which upgrades the performance of the software and uses 20 per cent less energy.

The application debuted in the Top 20 staff picks in the online Apple Apps Store and received 50,000 downloads in one day, shortly after its release. It’s being offered free of charge for any Lotus Notes licensed user.

The software appeals to mobile employees of large enterprise. Lotus Notes is already used by half of the largest 100 corporations in the world and 80 per cent of the top 10 global companies.

Software companies are in an environment where mobility is a standard demand with enterprise, Robinson said. For enterprise, the biggest concern that goes along with their need for mobility is security.

“We try to be customer-driven, and the best way to start supporting customers is to provide access through the browser; a browser-based data solution that doesn’t leave data behind on the device for enhanced security.”

For added security and protection, iPhone users can pair iNotes ultralite with IBM’s Lotus Mobile Connect virtual private network software, which has a new efficient sign on process from hand-held devices.

With the growth of the mobile market exploding and the number of mobile phones surpassing landlines for the first time, it is clear Lotus Notes and Domino are putting their efforts in the right area, Robinson said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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