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SAP, Sybase join to deliver business apps over handhelds

SAP and Sybase announced collaboration plans this week to deliver the latest SAP Business Suite of enterprise software products to wireless handhelds, including the iPhone, BlackBerries and devices running Windows Mobile.

SAP already works with BlackBerry products, but not with Sybase's mobile enterprise application products. The goal of the collaboration is to give business customers easy access to enterprise information from wireless handhelds, according to a Sybase spokesman.

Sybase has a long history of managing mobile devices for enterprises, and SAP would bring its software for managing various industry processes to handhelds, analysts said. Business Suite modules cover customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, product life-cycle management, supply chain management and supplier relationship management, according to the SAP Web site.

Sybase technology makes the customer data available to handheld users in both connected and disconnected modes. Sales professionals could use their handhelds to get up-to-the-minute data on customers that is synchronized with enterprise applications.

Sybase has been recognized by market research firms IDC and Gartner Inc. for its leadership in the mobile middleware field. SAP is well known for business application software, with 82,000 customers in 120 countries.

Stephen Drake, an IDC analyst, said the collaboration between SAP and Sybase is “significant” partly because both companies are market leaders with large installed customer bases.

Potentially 40 million SAP users could take advantage of the mobile capability being developed, giving users instant ability to act on customer requests, such as changes in an order, said Sybase CEO John Chen in a webcast on Wednesday. Details on the joint product releases were not available.

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