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Startup sees iPhone through biz-colored glasses

Pie in the sky

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In the beginning, the world questioned whether the iPhone was a business device. But not Santiago Becerra.

In January of 2008, even before Apple unveiled the iPhone SDK, Becerra joined five other tech industry veterans in founding a company whose sole aim was to build new-age business apps for the Jobsian handheld. "It was a risk," he tells The Reg. "We thought it was such a powerful platform, we just knew it would make its way into the hands of business people."

The company is called MeLLmo, and today, after nearly a year and a half of development, the San Diego, California-based startup will unveil its inaugural app, dubbed RoamBi. If you can forgive the company's way with names, the app is at least an intriguing proposal. It takes classic business reports built in tools like Excel, SAP Crystal Reports, or Salesforce.com and coverts them into the sort of interactive graphical extravaganza the iPhone is famous for.

"Until now, accessing information on a mobile device meant looking at inefficient, clunky, shrunken-down versions of a desktop experience," Becerra says. "With RoamBi, we have introduced an entirely new format that unlocks the true value of accessing content on mobile devices and empowers users to publish dynamic and interactive information directly to their iPhones."

It might extract data from a Salesforce report, for instance, and squeeze it into a handheld-sized pie chart, a bar graph, a slim but instantly expandable table, or what MeLLmo calls a CardEx - the virtual equivalent of a very small filing cabinet. Starting today, you can create and publish these reports via a free RoamBi Publisher service hosted on Amazon's cloud. Then you can view them on a free iPhone app.

At the moment, the Publisher works solely with CSV files, Excel spreadsheets, html tables, and Saleforce reports. But at some point, MeLLmo will offer a so-called premium version. Naturally, it will do more while asking you for money.

Within 90 days, the company will also punt an Enterprise server incarnation that could eventually handle everything from SAP Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports to back-end server reports from Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft. This load-it-and-run-it-yourself version will carry a $99 per user per year price tag. ®

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