SAP Plans Mobile Expansion to Capitalize on Phones, Tablets

SAP AG, seeking to benefit as more companies do business via phones and tablets, plans to unveil software that lets customers tailor applications for handheld devices, co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Hagemann Snabe said.

At a customer conference in Madrid in November, the world’s largest maker of business-management software will unveil a new version of its Sybase Unwired Platform with tools that let more developers create applications for sale through SAP’s online store, Snabe said in an interview yesterday. SAP also plans to release an online development tool, code-named Neo, that lets companies customize the look and feel of SAP applications on smartphones, tablets and personal computers.

“The next wave will be an expansion of mobile apps for business,” said Snabe, who took over as co-CEO of the company with Bill McDermott in 2010. “The key is to open up.”

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany, makes software used to manage manufacturing and delivery schedules, track companies’ financial performance, and decide how to hire and promote workers. Expanding its franchise to run on Apple Inc.’s iPads and other mobile devices workers use to perform daily tasks is key as the 40-year-old company positions itself for growth.

Sales Forecast

The software maker’s sales may rise 13 percent this year to 16.1 billion euros ($20.7 billion), according to the average estimate of analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Mobile-device software revenue this year is on track to hit 220 million euros ($282.8 million), the company has said.

Software for tablets and smartphones may account for 8 percent of SAP’s license and subscription revenue by 2015, double its percentage this year, Adam Wood, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a Sept. 5 research note. London-based Wood has an overweight rating on SAP shares.

SAP’s shares climbed 0.2 percent to 53.80 euros at 10:04 a.m. in Frankfurt. The stock had gained 31 percent this year through yesterday.

Apple’s iPad is accounting for a large portion of the increase in PC buying among businesses, according to a Sept. 10 report from Forrester Research Inc. Later today, Apple is expected to release the latest version of its iPhone, sporting a new hardware design and bigger screen. And in October, Microsoft Corp. plans to release Windows 8, a version of its flagship operating system that is optimized to run on tablets.

SAP’s new Sybase release will let developers design mobile apps for “a broader audience,” Snabe said. Today about 100 software developers are participating in a pilot of SAP’s online store, and the new tools should boost that number, he said.

Sybase Deal

Snabe, who hails from Denmark, and McDermott, an American, bought database and mobile-software company Sybase for $5.8 billion just three months after taking the reins as co-CEOs. During an address in Palo Alto, California, last month, McDermott said a phone call with Apple’s Steve Jobs several months before the deal was made helped convince him of the iPad’s business potential.

SAP has been learning from Apple’s approach to user-interface design, Snabe said in an interview with the “Bloomberg West” television program.

“We’re taking a lot of learning from the consumer world where the interaction is intuitive, it’s enjoyable,” he said. “We are asking ourselves, ’Why would that not be the benchmark for business software?’ ”

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