A weekly look at the latest products and services designed to help you run a better business.
Even if you have indeed been living under a rock, chances are you still heard that Apple's iPhone finally hit store shelves last week. And while the much-anticipated device has generated unprecedented media coverage, blistering sales, and relatively positive reviews since its debut, many business customers remain far from smitten.
For many a tech geek, the sleek-looking iPhone is a dream come true -- a touch-screen device that combines a cell phone, widescreen video iPod, Web browser, e-mail terminal, calendar, and camera. Apple has not yet released official figures for opening weekend sales, but recent reports from market analysts say Apple and carrier partner AT&T Wireless have moved as many as 700,000 units so far.
That said, many in the corporate world are still wondering if the iPhone is good for business. For all its hype, the hybrid has received mixed reviews about its practicality for the corporate set. While it may have superior Web browsing and entertainment capabilities to the BlackBerry, Treo, andother smartphones, one of the biggest complaints from potential business users is the phone's difficulty in syncing with corporate e-mail.
Add to that a button-less keyboard with a high learning curve, the inability to edit Word documents and PDFs, and the fact that the users can't cut and paste when composing messages.
There are a few other business bummers to the iPhone. Integral Web applications such as Flash and Java cannot be viewed on the iPhone. Internet connectivity is not perfect either. The device is fast and efficient when users are positioned in a Wi-Fi hot spot, but it has been reported that outside of a Wi-Fi zone, load time can be painfully slow.
And don't forget, the iPhone starts at nearly $500 -- a daunting price tag for any business owner looking to outfit his or her staff.
Misery Loves Company
Information-technology professionals who are employed by small businesses often don't have anyone to commiserate with about a hard day of network crashes and software glitches. A new social networking site launched by CDW, a Vernon Hills, Ill.-based technology services firm, offers small-business IT professionals a place to connect with their peers.
Conduit@CDW features the latest technology news, online tech resources, and forums. Visitors can also read posts from other IT professionals who have shared their stories about how they addressed technology problems at their business. Registered users can read and post reviews of news articles, interact with peers, and get customized news feeds for their areas of interest. Users can submit their funniest and most outrageous IT story about saving the day and be entered for a chance to win a free trip to attend a CDW event.
"An IT department of one is not at all unusual in small businesses," Mark Gambill, CDW vice president of marketing, said in a statement. "As such, these isolated IT professionals often miss out on peer networking, which is an important source of education and technical perspective."
The United States Association of Veterans in Business this week announced the launch of its new website, USAVETBIZ.org. According to organization founder, Richard Ramirez, the non-profit trade association was formed to raise greater public awareness and patronage of veterans in business and to lobby on national and state levels on behalf of veterans in business.
Site features include resources on leadership training and development for veterans, federal and state legislative advocacy, and campaigning for commerce.
"It is long overdue for our government to favor veterans in business similar to the statutory preferences for hiring veterans to the federal workforce," James Low, the organization's executive vice president, said in a statement. "It's the right thing to do."