A CRM software supplier has ignored analysts' warnings that Apple's iPhone is not a legitimate business smartphone by porting its product to the handset.

Etelos made its CRM (customer relationship management) platform available via the iPhone's Safari web browser this week, arguing that sales professionals will buy the iPhone themselves and use it at work, even if their employers don't supply the devices.

Etelos said it also is close to launching a tool kit that will let web developers create applications for the iPhone easily and sell them through the Etelos store.

"Basically, we've got a real browser on a mobile device. Users in the enterprise have been craving an easier way to develop and deploy their own applications to mobile scenarios," said Etelos CEO Danny Kolke.

Numerous analysts and CIOs have said the iPhone should be kept out of enterprise networks because it lacks security features and Apple has not yet made it compatible with business email programs such as Microsoft Exchange.

Kolke acknowledges that businesses are unlikely to buy iPhones for employees, given that it costs as much as $599 (£300). But he figures users will buy the devices themselves and enjoy them so much they'll want to use them at work.

Etelos' CRM platform previously was available for the BlackBerry, but that device's limited browser made it difficult for salespeople to launch new projects and view the schedules of colleagues, Kolke said.

"This [iPhone] version is full featured," he said. "It pretty much has all the same features as our browser version." Etelos CRM for iPhone uses Asynchronous JavaScript + XML techniques for creating interactive web pages, and includes note-taking, appointment setting, contact management, sales and project management, and group messaging and reporting.

Etelos made its CRM program available in Google Apps in April. Converting the product to the iPhone was not difficult because the screen dimensions are similar to those of Google's Desktop Gadgets, which fill only a portion of a computer monitor, Kolke said.

Etelos CRM for iPhone is available at no additional cost with several versions of the vendor's CRM product, available both as software as a service and for in-house deployments. The software-as-a-service editions cost $12 to $35 (£6 to £18) per user, per month. A server-side software version goes for a flat rate starting at $2,500 (£1,250).

Any iPhone owner can try out the product for 24 hours at the Etelos iPhone website

See also:

Apple iPhone: the definitive review

Apple's iPhone becomes mass storage device

Apple iPhone listed on Amazon.co.uk

O2 to launch iPhone in the UK