In between the infomercials being played out at Oracle's virtual conference I dropped in on the SAP-Sybase mobile apps announcement. The interwebs seem to have grabbed onto the iPhone vibe but as I've been telling other developers this week: concentrate on RIM and Nokia first.
iPhone may be a cool tool in the eyes and hands of the blogerati but at the corporate level? Despite its recent difficulties, Nokia is still the world's number one cell phone manufacturer. Blackberry dominates the US business market. OK - so I understand the need to appear cool but SAP isn't always comfortable with that image. Steady, reliable, boring go a long way in risk averse boardrooms.
But there's another factor in play here that wasn't really addressed. I like that SAP is getting serious about mobile technology. It allows them to think about doing good things in emerging states where broadband may never come. I'm thinking Africa in particular, often the last place on earth that vendors want to go yet in real need of help; a continent that is no less inventive than any other. Don't believe me? Then check out TED.
Then there's the question of pricing. Executives would not be drawn other than to say 'reasonable.' If we're talking about iPhone apps then they'd better be free or close to it. Oracle has had Oracle Business Approvals for Managers on the Appstore, since October of last year. SAP's version looks remarkably similar. The Oracle app is free though it requires the licensing of the Business Approvals Connector server app at a pre-discount price of $8,750 for the minimum of 25 users.
I'm guessing that neither SAP nor Sybase will want to contemplate those numbers and then of course there is all that juicy process integration work. Even so, if SAP wants to take a serious tilt at its extended enterprise universe which it claims to be 140 million users, then $350 a pop (Oracle's effective per user pricing) plus 22% maintenance charge is way off the mark. Slash that figure to $50 and $50 maintenance and you'd get my attention.
They have plenty of time to think about it. Delivery isn't scheduled until H2 2009 or early 2010.