Apple's app store thinks small

With a new ad campaign and business-oriented downloads, the iPhone maker targets company owners and entrepreneurs.

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By Mina Kimes, reporter

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(Fortune Magazine) -- In the battle for corporate customers, BlackBerry reigns supreme. But will the iPhone become the mobile device of choice for small businesses?

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) is pursuing entrepreneurs aggressively with a new ad campaign featuring a menu of iPhone applications for running tiny enterprises. All told, more than 1,600 business apps are now available for the device, including software from FedEx (FDX, Fortune 500) and accounting site Mint.com. The most popular business app turns the phone into a voice recorder.

The availability of such a wide variety of small-business-oriented apps prompted Jason Miller, owner of San Diego construction and design company Wise Man, to switch his firm to iPhones from BlackBerrys about eight months ago.

His managers travel among construction sites, and they use an iPhone app called Air Sharing to trade blueprints and time-tracking software TSheets to monitor workers' hours. The GasBag app helps the team find the lowest fuel prices in San Diego County. Miller, who says he has spent about $100 on iPhone software, personally does about 30% of his "computing" on the iPhone, the rest on an office desktop.

Indeed, while the iPhone is a great tool, even heavy users say they can't quite run an entire business on it.

"I use my iPhone to react to information, but not for active tasks," says Rohin Dhar, owner of Personforce, a creator of online job boards. "Typing on it is really hard."  To top of page

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