Friday, July 11, 2008

Oracle Launches iPhone Apps For Business

Trying to figure out how to justify the company paying for Apple's new 3G iPhone? Oracle wants to help.

Oracle became the first major business software vendor to deliver applications for the iPhone, joining hundreds of software developers, many of them tiny or consumer-oriented, hawking wares at Thursday's opening of Apple's online App Store.

Oracle's Business Indicators applications let users of several Oracle business intelligence applications get information sent to their iPhones. Finance, sales, and manufacturing managers can get alerts and updates based on predefined business metrics, such as if sales goals are met or shipment levels dip.

The mobile apps are free to Oracle BI customers, and data can be viewed in graphical or tabular format. Oracle plans to broaden the line to include apps that let managers make approvals -- for things such as new hires or expense reports -- using their phones. It's also promising apps that bring capabilities from its CRM software, such as contact management and sales forecasting, to iPhones.

Oracle isn't the first to develop BI capabilities for the iPhone. Information Builders has provided iPhone access to its BI reports running on servers for months, and open source BI vendor Pentaho last week announced a similar capability. On-demand ERP vendor NetSuite provides iPhone access to data in its systems.

Apple is trying to push the iPhone further into business. The 3G iPhone, to be released on Friday amid the now typical sleep-on-the-sidewalk anticipation, supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for pushing e-mail, calendars, and contacts to the devices. It has the ability to view Word and Excel attachments within e-mails, and Apple offers a secure Cisco-based VPN into corporate networks. Apple released a software development kit for the iPhone earlier this year; its first application store coincides with the 3G launch.