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Zoho Mobilizes Online Apps

Zoho's ever-growing application lineup now has a bigger presence in mobile. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) upstart offers a broad suite of applications that includes Zoho Mail, Calendar, Writer, Sheet, Show & Creator.

Launched today, Zoho Mobile integrates these applications with a consistent user interface for use across a number of popular mobile platforms: Apple's iPhone, the Google-backed Android mobile OS, Research in Motion's BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Nokia-owned Symbian.

The applications are available for free download at a new mobile.zoho Web site.

The news comes at a time of growing interest in the mobile application area thanks to the boom in download activity at Apple's iPhone App Store, which recently reported that it's had over a billion downloads.

The moves could also help Zoho better capitalize also on booming interest in SaaS. Its applications compete directly with Google's own Apps suite, as well as a number of other big-name vendors who are testing the waters in SaaS, like Microsoft, which has created Web-based versions of some of its key apps.

Zoho had already dabbled in the mobile space, offering some of its applications on the iPhone and Windows Mobile devices. Going forward, it's also working on applications native to specific mobile platforms.

Raju Vegesna, Zoho's chief evangelist, said today's mobile rollout is an extension of the company's application suite. "This is so, for example, you can share a document with someone on a mobile device, take a quick look and give some feedback," he said.

The company is specifically targeting the iPhone for new mobile applications, with BlackBerry next, followed by others. Vegesna said developers are already using Zoho's database program for the iPhone to track sales, and Zoho might bring out a custom database reporting tool for the iPhone.

"We get a lot of requests from iPhone users," Vegesna told InternetNews.com."I see us doing other native apps that are innovative and designed for the mobile device. They may not be related to our other products, but will use Zoho Mobile backend."

Zoho Mobile is also now localized in Japanese and the company plans to announce mobile support for additional languages shortly. Earlier this month, Zoho added integrated chat functionality across its application line.