Founded by Apple Vets, Apperian Gets Down to Business with the iPhone

3/5/09Follow @wroush

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Goldman has lived for the last 15 years. (He says he won’t miss the commute to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.) Goldman’s brother Barry is the company’s chief financial officer.

When you hear companies talk about “mobilizing workforces,” the first thing you probably imagine is executives or sales reps using their smartphones to access company e-mail or spreadsheets or log on to mobile versions of sales force automation tools and other standard enterprise applications. And indeed, that’s the sort of thing that companies like Watertown, MA-based Enterprise Mobile help companies do (using Windows Mobile devices, in Enterprise Mobile’s case).

But that’s not Apperian’s specialty at all. Its developers are more interested in building brand-new business applications that take advantage of the iPhone’s unique combination of features, such as its multitouch interface, its GPS- and WiFi-based location finding ability, and its built-in accelerometer and camera. Goldman walked me through two examples of apps the company is developing right now for big corporate customers:

• For a large automobile insurer, Apperian is working on an application that would let insured drivers submit insurance claims directly from accident sites. (That’s what Goldman means by “point of service”—using the phone to take care of a situation where and when you need to.) “You get in an accident, you whip out your iPhone. The phone knows where you are. You take a picture of the accident scene. With a few clicks using a preformatted template, you send in a report. You’re on your way, and you get your claim adjusted quickly.”

• For a big commercial real estate company, Apperian is creating a mobile property management system designed to free agents from the hassles created by being in the field so much of the time. “Currently, all these agents have laptops and cell phones, and they’re ducking into the closest Starbucks and trying to access their corporate databases. They’re faxing blueprints. It’s a very manual process. With an iPhone app, they’ll have always-on access to everything that their prospective clients need. They can…flip through building portfolios, bring them up on a map, use a ‘Near Me’ functionality—the Loopt functionality—to see whether all their other agents are. Agents will have lease information at their fingertips, laser-measured blueprints that they can e-mail to clients right from their phone.”

Goldman calls these kinds of applications “truly transformative—way beyond any customer relationship management or sales force automation-type application.” And he thinks they’re only the beginning. “If you look at combining core location, multitouch, the accelerometer, and all the other amazing things in the SDK [the iPhone software development kit], we have just begun to scratch the surface.”

Though Goldman can’t yet name any of Apperian’s clients, he says they include “some unbelievable billion-dollar customers.” And when it comes to selling projects, the startup’s roots at Apple don’t hurt. “We have a great relationship with Apple,” says Goldman. “We can’t claim that we’re ‘officially supported by Apple’—no one gets that. But they are highly encouraged by Apperian.”

Which they should be. “The bottom line is that we are going to help them sell thousands more iPhones and laptops into enterprises, because we are going to be developing software not only for iPhones but for OS X,” Goldman says. “We’re going to help enterprise mobility truly take form on the Apple platform.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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