September, 2009 | The Wall Street Journal

IPhone apps aren’t just about time-killing video games, restaurant tips and hobbyist lore. Increasingly, they’re also for taking care of business.

A growing number of tools – both paid and free– in Apple’s App Store are useful to small companies whose owners or employees are pounding the pavement, hoping to ink deals or take care of customers.

“It is not all about fun and games,” says Shiv Bakhshi, principal analyst at Mobile Perspectives, a Seattle research firm. Developers increasingly understand that “you are an office while you travel” and need ways to efficiently manage, understand and grow sales on the go, he says.

In the last year, Apple has tried to woo business users to the iPhone by adding more features they need, such as real-time email delivery and better security, and has targeted small companies in particular with a TV ad featuring business apps. Meanwhile, competitors like business-market leader Research in Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry, are increasing their app offerings for both business and pleasure.

The iPhone appears to be gaining more traction with employees of small companies, especially those with 15 to 99 employees, than with those at medium-sized firms, where cautious IT departments tend to impose restrictions on employee technology usage, says Roger Entner, head of telecom research at The Nielsen Co. Employees of very large firms, those with over 10,000 employees, are also more likely to use iPhones because their IT departments have the resources to allow more choice, he says.

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