This week Zoho and Sage launch new online packages for the SMB market, Microsoft’s online CRM release is priced to suit SMBs, while US SMB’s are not backing up their data. In other new, tablet sales -- particularly iPad -- are booming.

Zoho Books Takes Finance Online

The first of two financial packages for SMBs this week comes from Zoho (news, site). Earlier this week, it launched Zoho Books, its online accounting software targeting SMBs, that gives small companies complete visibility of their finances, as well as a powerful, straightforward tool for managing money.

Users can manage their customers and invoices as well as record, monitor and reconcile their bank accounts and transactions. Zoho Books also lets users easily give their accountants or financial advisers access to the system so they can collaborate in real time. Most importantly, Zoho Books helps users make better, more informed decisions and stay on top of their business.

Setting itself up as an alternative to Intuit’s Quick Books online, it is offering Zoho Books for US$ 24 per month for two users. For additional users, it is US$ 5 per user, per month. Yearly subscribers get a two-month discount. Zoho will also offer customized migration services for customers switching from a competitive offering. Find out more in the following video:

Sage Moves to Cloud

The second financial package to be launched this week is from Sage (newssite) which moves into the cloud for the first time with its online SMB accounting package.

Built on the Ruby-on-Rails open source web application framework, SageOne comes in three different editions. However, for the moment, Sage says this new package will only be available in the UK, but is part of a new web strategy. Whether Sage will offer it or not is still not clear.

MS CRM Online Offers SMB Prices

If you missed it earlier this week, after four months in beta, Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM 2011 has finally been released worldwide. The new online CRM is now available in 40 countries and 41 languages, while the on-premise edition is due to be released on February 28.

As part of the launch, it is offering those who take it up between now and June 30 a special price of US$ 33 per user/month as opposed to the full price of US$ 44 per user/month, putting it well within reach of most SMBs.

Compare that to the US$ 65 and US$ 125 per user/month for's Professional and Enterprise editions, and US$ 75 per user/month for Oracle’s CRM On-Demand, and you have the makings of an interesting year in the CRM space as Microsoft tries to counter Salesforce’s dominance of the market.

Reduced pricing is not the only incentive that Microsoft is offering however. In a move that will see the three companies jostling for customer sign-ups, Microsoft has underlined its 'Cloud CRM For Less' campaign that will see it offering enterprises US$ 200 for every user that jumps from Salesforce or Oracle to Microsoft’s online CRM.

US SMBs Amongst Worst For Data Back Up

Data recovery vendor, Acronis, has launched the industry’s first Global Disaster Recovery Index, a barometer which measures IT managers’ confidence in their backup and recovery operations.

The survey of over 3000 SMBs conducted by the Ponemon Institute revealed that while attitudes towards backup and recovery differ widely around the world, businesses everywhere want a single backup and recovery solution for physical, virtual and cloud environments.

The vast majority (68%) of IT managers agree that their greatest challenge in a hybrid environment is moving data between the three environments, yet the average business currently uses at least two or three separate backup solutions, making disaster recovery (DR) more complicated.

SMBs in the US, UK and Australia all scored poorly on their confidence in their ability to avoid downtime in the event of a serious incident. When it comes to successfully recovering from a serious incident, the Australians were the least confident. Just 22% of Australian businesses felt that they would be able to recover quickly in the event of downtime, compared to a global average of 50%.

The survey also highlighted that many IT managers are failing to back up their virtual environments as often as their physical counterparts. More on this here.

iPad Sales Booming

New figures from IDC (news, site) are showing just how successful Apple’s iPad has been. According to the figures, which were published this week, the worldwide media tablet market grew 45.1% in the third quarter of 2010 (3Q10), driven almost exclusively by the global demand for iPad.

According to the IIDC Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, vendors shipped 4.8 million units globally in Q3 2010, compared to 3.3 million units in the second quarter of 2010, with Apple's iPad representing nearly 90% of the media tablets shipped worldwide in Q3 2010.

IDC says that one of the reasons tablets have become so popular is because they support multiple connectivity technologies and a broad range of applications, which differentiates them from single purpose–focused devices such as e-readers.

Media tablet market evolution will be driven not only by product introductions from PC, consumer electronics, and mobile phone vendors, but also by expanded distribution channels (with mobile operators playing a key role) and commercial adoption by businesses. IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and e-Reader Tracker can be accessed here.