Apple has just released a new "Office" TV ad that demonstrates how small businesses can accomplish a variety of sales tasks using the company's iPhone 3G. Among other things, the TV spot shows how the iPhone can be used to process credit-card applications, print shipping labels, and even track product deliveries.
Apple has already followed through on a number of business user requests, including push e-mail, calendar and contacts capabilities, and compatibility with Microsoft Exchange.
"You notice if you go right now to the menu and say you want to connect your mail client to an Exchange server, it's the first thing on the list on the iPhone," said Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop at the Web 2.0 Expo earlier this month. "The reason is we helped Apple do that."
Carving Out A Niche
Though Gartner analysts have seen some anecdotal evidence that the iPhone is enjoying some adoption success, Carolina Milanesi, a research director at Gartner, said the numbers haven't reached high levels.
"Apple obviously has made some changes to their software earlier this year to include enterprise applications," Milanesi said. The company also has introduced virtual private network technology and other changes "from a security standpoint that were aimed at enterprises," she said.
Last year, Apple did an excellent job in attracting consumer attention to the smartphone segment, noted IDC research manager Francisco Jeronimo. "Since then, these devices have been seen as personal devices rather than just professional devices," Jeronimo said.
Now Apple is moving in the opposite direction by trying to carve out a niche for its 3G handset among small businesses. And the company's chances for success are getting a big boost from the iPhone maker's huge cadre of third-party software developers.
The company's new "Office" TV ad shows off a new credit-card terminal app from Innerfence that enables small businesses to use the iPhone to process payments through Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express. Moreover, a new FedEx app gives small businesses the ability to track product deliveries on the iPhone.
Quickoffice for iPhone
Quickoffice has just unleashed a new business productivity suite that gives iPhone users the ability to create and edit native Word and Excel documents and spreadsheets. Winner of the best business application award at this month's CTIA Wireless 2009 expo, the new mobile suite renders text and spreadsheet documents for optimum viewing on the iPhone's screen.
Text document functionality includes font formatting, content selection, bullets and cut, copy and paste within Word documents. Users can also modify documents in landscape mode to leverage a wider keyboard, the software developer said.
For spreadsheets, users can easily revise inputs and recalculate, as well as insert and resize rows and columns within the application. What's more, the $19.99 software download enables iPhone users to view iWorks, PDF and other common media files.
Quickoffice for iPhone includes file-sharing capabilities for greater collaboration among colleagues, friends and family members. It lets users to transfer files to and from a desktop using Wi-Fi as well as remotely access files through a MobileMe iDisk account.
Microsoft is also gearing up to make its Office productivity suite available on the iPhone. The software giant first reported last November that its Office Web applications will work across multiple platforms, including the iPhone's Safari Web browser.
Earlier this month, Elop admitted that Office is not yet available on the iPhone but said, "Just keep watching."