SAP rolls out new mobile apps, boosts HTML5, iOS, Android support

Analyst: SAP's mobile strategy makes plenty of room for partners

SAP on Monday unveiled a series of mobile applications covering areas such as expense management and e-learning, as well as improved support for iOS and Android devices. The announcements came at the start of the vendor's Sapphire conference in Orlando.

One of the new mobile applications aims to tackle the "necessary evil" of travel expense reporting. It allows workers to fill out expenses while on the go, rather than waiting to do an entire batch later, SAP said.

A new Learning Assistant application enables users to access training content "right from their iPads," SAP said.

Meanwhile, a third new mobile product, Customer Briefing, taps CRM (customer relationship management) system data in real time, which is a boon to road-bound salespeople, according to SAP.

SAP is also releasing an application called EHS Safety Issue, which enables workers to record safety violations with audio and video and then report them to a manager.

The company entered the mobile application market more broadly with its 2010 acquisition of Sybase, which brought an array of mobile middleware into the fold.

More than 70 mobile applications have been rolled out by SAP and partners, according to a statement.

Also Monday, SAP announced HTML5 versions of its SAP Store for iPads, as well as new versions of the native Store application for iOS and Android.

A number of existing mobile applications, including Payments Approval and Customer Financial Fact Sheet, have also been upgraded to Android 2.2 and higher, SAP said.

SAP recently built on the Sybase acquisition by purchasing mobile application development vendor Syclo.

Despite those investments, SAP is betting big on partners, many of which are attending Sapphire, to make its mobile application business successful, according to mobile analyst Kevin Benedict, founder of Netcentric Strategies.

"Yes, they have spent billions of dollars on mobile middleware, tools, infrastructure and mobile applications (e.g. Sybase and Syclo), but that was, I believe, to ignite a now-explosive enterprise mobility marketplace," he wrote in a blog post on Monday. "They needed to kick-start the market and they have succeeded."

"Look at where SAP makes their money," Benedict said. "They make their money selling and maintaining large enterprise software implementations that run companies. Mobility extends and adds value to these large SAP users. If more users can access SAP through a third-party mobile solution, and SAP receives more user fees, then all is well."

SAP's recently announced mobile development partnerships with the likes of Adobe, Appcelerator and Sencha support this idea, Benedict added.

Sapphire continues through Wednesday. The company is expected to lay out a detailed strategy for cloud-based applications as well as the future of its HANA in-memory database platform during the event.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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Chris Kanaracus

IDG News Service
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