Verizon Business service adds mobile device toolkit

Allows use of enterprise apps across many devices

Verizon Business today announced a hosted service to help customers develop and deploy applications such as CRM software across multiple devices such as the iPhone, Symbian, Windows Phone 7 and, soon, Android.

Verizon said it added the Mobile Services Enablement Platform to its existing Managed Mobility service launched a year ago to give customers flexibility in designing mobile business applications across a variety of devices and carriers. That allows a company to more easily support many of the popular devices users want to carry.

The Verizon approach relies on the Sybase Unwired Platform, which has pre-built templates for some leading enterprise applications, including those from Siebel, SAP, Oracle, Remedy, Salesforce.com, and Amdocs, said Cliff Cibelli, a Verizon Business group manager for product marketing and development.

The development toolkit "makes it relatively easy to port an application from BlackBerry to Symbian, iOS, WP7 and Android in the near future," Cibelli said in an interview.

Pricing for the service is $50 a month per application per device for the most sophisticated applications, he said. The simplest application could cost a "few dollars," he said.

Cibelli said the service is needed, given the range of devices now on the market. "Two years ago, it was all about Research in Motion [maker of the BlackBerry], but then the iPhone and Android have hit," he said.

Customers will pick their own hardware, and Verizon will treat videoconferencing and other emerging collaboration capabilities as "just another app that we could make sure works on their devices," he said.

Mike Sapien, an analyst at Ovum, said the new mobile application fills a gap in Verizon's mobile service offering. "Verizon has provided one of the major requirements of the large enterprise customers looking for more than just mobile service and device management," he said via e-mail.

He said Verizon competes globally with, mainly, AT&T, Orange Business Services and British Telecom and in the U.S. against Sprint Nextel.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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