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iPhone CRM Apps Abound, Other Smartphones Work to Keep Up

When it was launched two and a half years ago, the iPhone was in many ways the positioned as the non-enterprise smartphone. BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices were the phones for businessmen, and the iPhone offered that same functionality with an added cool factor. Needless to say, the iPhone has since had great success within enterprise and particularly within CRM, and given the astonishing growth of Apple’s App Store, things will only get better.

Aside from featuring the simple user interface characteristic of Apple devices, the iPhone’s success is largely due to its ability to offer many more software choices than its competitors do. While most of these applications aren’t relevant to business users, it is noteworthy that there are currently about 100,000 applications available for the iPhone; rival smartphones don’t even have 15,000 apps.

Despite not being positioned as a business phone, it was quickly targeted for enterprise goals. The year it was released, Salesforce.com made a lite CRM app in the form of a contact manager; the following year they released an app for their CRM subscribers to view and creating information, and Oracle did the same. And over the past year, CRM for iPhone has grown—SugarCRM and NetSuite have applications, and smaller CRM players are joining in. NetSuite recently released an ERP application for the iPhone, and while it currently only has viewing capability, editing functions are soon to come. This seemingly premature release of NetSuite’s app is definitely a view to the status of CRM applications for the iPhone. It isn’t a mature market, but it is a growing one, and these applications are constantly adding more capabilities and proliferating.

There is another player recently added to the mobile CRM application race—the Android—and Oracle and Salesforce.com have already reached out to HTC (the company making the phones) about developing programs. Droid has also eschewed enterprise positioning, but the phone’s compatibility with Google programs is attractive for enterprise users. Currently, one of the drawbacks in using the Android as a business phone is its lacking security, but these problems are not without solution. Whether the new Droids—or any competing smartphone—will surpass the iPhone in CRM and general enterprise use is tough to say. Only time will tell.