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Apple's App Store has more than 50,000 mobile apps. Blackberry's App World and Nokia's Ovi store are ramping up the number they offer as quickly as possible. In the near future, Microsoft will open its Marketplace for Mobile store as well.
As a result, there has never been such a wide choice of mobile apps available. The good news is that many of these can turn your cell phone into a powerful business tool.
Here are 10 of the best mobile apps to make you more productive. All iPhone apps are available from Apple's AppStore. Links are provided for others' apps.
1. Turn your wi-fi enabled phone into a wireless hotspot using its 3G connection.Joikuspot (Symbian S60) $21.48
WMWiFirouter (Windows Mobile) $29.99
A simple way to connect your laptop to the Internet anywhere where you have 3G cellular coverage.
2. Access and control your desktop computer remotely from your phone.Logmein Ignition (iPhone) $29.99
Jaadu VNC (iPhone) $24.99
VNC+ (Blackberry) $29.95
Mocha VNC (Windows Mobile) $20
Very useful for those occasions when you need to run or shut down an application or check data stored on your computer when you are out of the office. A large screen device (such as an iPhone) is essential for these applications to be practical.
Note: LogMeIn requires a free or paid Logmein account from www.logmein.com and Logmein software running on Windows or OS X desktop device. To use a VNC mobile client, free VNC server software must be running on Windows, Linux or Mac desktop.
3. Access project documents created by anyone in your team from your phone - even if their computers are switched off.Sugarsync Mobile (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile) free
After installing Sugarsync Manager software on team members' Windows or Mac machines, project files or folders are sent to Sugarsync whenever changes are made. A Sugarsync Mobile client enables you to access those files directly from your phone.
Note: Requires a free or paid SugarSync account from www.sugarsync.com.
4. Check your web site stats from your cell phone.Analytics App (iPhone) $5.99
Mobile GA (Android) free from Android Marketplace
Keep an idea on how your business is doing, any time, anywhere, with a cell phone interface to your Google Analytics data. The iPhone app comes with a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.
5. Run your company's XenApp hosted Windows applications from your cell phone.Citrix Receiver (iPhone, Windows Mobile Pro, Symbian S60) free
Use corporate applications directly from your cell phone without the risk of losing or compromising confidential corporate data, since the applications and data run in your corporate data center. XenApp sends only screen display updates to your phone.
6. Hold online meetings from your phone.Fuze Meeting (iPhone, Blackberry) free
Cisco WebEx Meeting Center (iPhone) free
Host audio conferences with full dashboard controls, see files and presentations, chat via IM, without having to return to your office of carry around a laptop.
Note: WebEx and Fuze Meeting conference services are not free.
7. Edit Office documents on the move.Documents To Go (iPhone, Blackberry, Windows
Mobile, Android, WebOS coming soon) from $4.99 depending on platform A portable productivity suite, Documents To Go lets you create, open and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on your cell phone, including files received as attachments.
Note: iPhone app currently supports editing only for Word documents; other formats can only be viewed.
8. Update your web server on the move using FTP.FTP On The Go (iPhone) $6.99
MobyExplorer (Java J2ME enabled phones) $14.99
Handy for those times when your web site needs updating or you notice a typo on one of the pages when you are away from your desk.
9. Make credit card sales at trade shows, exhibitions, or outdoor events.iTerminal (iPhone) $0.99
Paytech (Blackberry) free
Intuit GoPayment (iPhone, Blackberry Curve, Palm Pre, Motorola Razr) free
Use your phone as a credit card terminal for instant transactions anywhere. Intuit GoPayment can also be used with a Bluetooth card reader for added speed.
Note: These services all require signing up for a merchant account and involve monthly and/or per-transaction fees.
10. Access your CRM and business intelligence data.Salesforce.com mobile lite (Blackberry 8000 and 9000 series, Windows Mobile 6 iPhone) free to Professional Edition (or higher) license holders
Oracle Business Indicators (iPhone) free, requires Oracle Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition Plus or Oracle Business Intelligence Applications
View leads, contacts, accounts, opportunities, cases and solutions, and edit tasks and events in Salesforce.com, and view and interact with pre-defined and customized Oracle financial, HR, supply chain and CRM analytics and business intelligence alerts.
Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.