Now is the time to develop apps for business

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Avi Greengart is an analyst at Washington, D.C., research company Current Analysis. BtoB recently asked him about iPhone apps and their marketing potential. BtoB: Is now the right time for businesses to start thinking about writing their own iPhone apps? Greengart: If you're talking about businesses writing their own consumer-oriented apps (not the traditional in-house apps for supply chain management or field force automation), then now is the perfect time for the iPhone for three reasons: 1) Installed base. If you combine the iPhone and iPod touch, you have an installed base exceeding 37 million. 2) Iconic device. The iPhone gives companies positive brand association. 3) Improved SDK [software developer kit]. Apple opened up the iPhone to applications with the debut of the iPhone SDK a year ago. It is now about to deliver the iPhone 3.0 SDK, which gives developers an enormous number of new tools and capabilities to exploit. BtoB: Is the iPhone the only device worth considering building an app for or do others merit a look, too? Greengart: Other platforms are definitely worth considering, especially now that everyone's building app stores, which provide a clear distribution path to the consumer. The problem is that there are so many platforms, and each one you take on requires development and support. The other mobile OSs with a large installed base include Symbian, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry. Then there are exciting, new mobile OSs entering the fray, including Google's Android, Palm's webOS, and LiMo [a standards-based mobile Linux implementation with a long list of backers]. M
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