Vendors see future in iPhone business applications

Cortado is among the vendors at Cebit showing off software that allows mobile devices to connect to corporate networks and databases as well as access printers

The iPhone may generally be considered a consumer device, but several vendors at the Cebit trade show this week are demonstrating applications and services to put the device more firmly in the business arena.

One of those vendors, Cortado, is expanding its range of software that allows mobile devices to connect to corporate networks and databases as well as access printers and fax machines. Within the next six months, Cortado says those features will be available for iPhone users.

[ For more on bringing the iPhone into the office, read "How to make the new iPhone work at work." | Get the latest on mobile developments with InfoWorld's Mobile Report newsletter and Mobile Pulse blog. ]

The product, likely to be called the Cortado Corporate Server for the iPhone, will be offered through Apple's App Store.

Cortado said its development efforts have been driven by the rise in corporate use of the iPhone, which the company says has become its second most important platform behind BlackBerry devices. iPhones are sometimes replacing laptop computers in the field, Cortado said.

The company already offers a product that connects the iPhone with Microsoft's Exchange e-mail server.

On the unified communications front, German company C4B is launching version 2 of its XPhone CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) Mobility software for the iPhone.

C4B's software suites let companies integrate their PBX infrastructure with mobile phones to manage calls and presence information, among many other functions.

The latest version of the XPhone CTI Mobility lets users of iPhones and other mobiles to see call information, contact presence information and other data through a Web browser. Users can set up call forwarding, and see presence and phone availability for co-workers without refreshing the Web site since it uses AJAX techniques.

People can make and accept calls with one click and decide whether they want to route their call through the company's PBX or their mobile device.

XPhone CTI Mobility is platform-independent since it works through a Web browser and does not require additional software to be installed, making it suitable for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X users, the company said. For data security, it uses SSL encryption.

At least one Cebit vendor is promoting its software development skills for the iPhone. Semaphore Software offers to develop applications and Web sites optimized for the iPhone at its central development center in Gujarat, India. The company also has offices in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Semaphore develops iPhone applications in numerous categories, including business programs, multimedia, Internet, games, and other utilities.

Also on the application side are forthcoming travel guides for the iPhone from German company Merian Scout. The travel guides recommend places of interests, eateries, and hotels. It's aimed at consumers and business users. Merian Scout says the first guides to be released, near the end of Cebit, will cover major cities and areas in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Merian plans to roll out 75 guides covering Europe. The guides will cost €4.99 ($6.28) and will be available through Apple's AppStore.

Cebit runs Tuesday through Sunday at the exhibition grounds in Hanover, Germany.

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