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Serious Business Apps Arriving For iPhone

That was quick.

Just a few weeks after the long-awaited launch of the consumer-focused iPhone, NetSuite is launching SuitePhone, an integrated set of business management programs for the hot-selling device.

Actually, SuitePhone isn't so much a new set of applications but NetSuite for the iPhone. NetSuite officials say Apple's  announcement that its Safari browser should be the target for iPhone developers was music to its ears.

NetSuite iPhone
Click on the graphic for a bigger view of SuitePhone

"We've always supported multiple browsers, so Apple putting Safari on the iPhone made it a simple process," Sean Rollings, senior director of product marketing at NetSuite, told internetnews.com.

Current NetSuite users can simply access their accounts on an iPhone at no additional cost for the hosted, on-demand applications. NetSuite said new customers who want to use the iPhone will be able to start next month.

NetSuite's on-demand, integrated business management applications include enterprise resource planning , Customer Relationship Management   and e-commerce functionality. The applications are geared to small-to-medium-sized businesses and departments at large corporations.

While NetSuite offers end-to-end business-management capabilities (from taking orders, checking availability, supporting customers, etc.), it considers the portable iPhone a complementary platform.

"We don't see people abandoning their office notebooks or PCs to use iPhone," said Rollings. "But it's not beyond the realm of possibility that salespeople will be able to get a lot of their work done on an iPhone. You have the ability to check inventory for the availability of a product and get an answer in real time. The cross-process view in NetSuite is a huge enabler."

Brad Kugler, CEO of Distribution Video and Audio in Palm Harbor, Fla., was one of the many thousands to rush out and buy an iPhone the first day it was released, but not so much with his business in mind.

"After I got the iPhone, I started poking around and thought I'd see if I could access my NetSuite account. I didn't think it would work, but to my surprise it did," said Kugler. "First I was looking up sales records, then I tried reports and graphs and they all displayed beautifully."

Kugler said he recently bought eight Blackberrys for his salespeople but now he's thinking the iPhone will be a better way to go. "There's third-party software that lets you view NetSuite data on the Blackberry, but it's fairly expensive," said Kugler. "With the iPhone I'm able to run NetSuite right away and there's nothing extra to buy and no middleware."

Sheryl Kingstone, director of enterprise applications and mobility at Yankee Group, is bullish on the iPhone for business use and NetSuite's support of it.

"The iPhone is one of the most gorgeous form factors to hit the market in a while and manipulation through an application is much easier using touch," said Kingstone. "What's nice about NetSuite here is that it's all one application; you don't have to worry about integrating separate parts. Also, it's SaaS  so you don't have to worry about VPN  access.

In related news, Etelos, a provider of on-demand CRM software, announced that its Etelos CRM suite is compatible with the Safari Web browser and runs on the iPhone.

The company is offering a 24-hour test drive for iPhone owners via this Web site. The CRM suite offers users contact, task, group, sales and project management apps, as well as group messaging and reporting functionality.