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NetSuite goes wireless with help from its friends

NetSuite goes wireless with help from its friends

NetSuite has turned to its partners to make its hosted suite directly accessible by mobile devices

NetSuite announced Thursday that three of its partners now provide extensions to the vendor's hosted midmarket applications suite so that the software will run on mobile devices.

NetSuite's eponymous integrated software-as-a-service online suite includes ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and electronic-commerce functionality. The company mostly targets small to midsize businesses looking to move up from entry-level accounting software like Intuit's QuickBooks to more sophisticated applications on which to run their firms' operations.

The partners -- Antenna Software, Explore Mobile, a wholly owned subsidiary of Explore Consulting, and iEnterprises -- have used NetSuite's SuiteFlex application development and integration software to build extensions to the NetSuite suite so it can be accessed wirelessly by users of BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Palm Treo devices.

Being able to access NetSuite on a mobile device will enable a remote user to see a customer's history, take product orders, update pricing and generate quotes for orders in real time, according to Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite.

Using SuiteFlex, which NetSuite debuted in October, customers and partners can also customize the suite's role-based user interface for mobile devices, Nelson said. The vendor expects to continue to rely on partners to supply mobile capabilities for its software, while NetSuite concentrates on further development of its suite. "We'll focus on the things we can do best," he added.

NetSuite's approach to making its SAAS offerings available as mobile applications is markedly different from that adopted by Salesforce.com, its prime competitor in the hosted CRM space.

In April 2006, Salesforce.com made its first ever purchase acquiring one of its partners, wireless technology developer Sendia for US$15 million in cash. The vendor also launched AppExchange Mobile, technology based on Sendia's software, allowing customers to access on-demand applications from Salesforce.com and its partners from their handheld computers and smartphones. Salesforce.com said that the technology also made it possible for developers to write their wireless applications once and not have to tweak them for each mobile device operating system.

NetSuite will refer customers seeking mobile access to its software to its three partners and may add more partners, Nelson said. The partners will provide support for the extensions and pricing is up to the partners, with Nelson expecting each extension to typically cost US$25 per user per month.

Nelson also positioned the news as a validation of NetSuite's SuiteFlex software, showing it can be used to not only develop specific vertical applications but also to help create horizontal applications that run across a wide variety of industries.


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