This week, we had to look at Apple’s promised preferential iPad2 deal for SMBs, SAP sets itself up as a competitor to Salesforce in the SMB space, SMSs for customer relationship get an airing with Clickatell and Siemens offers a UC package for SMBs.

iPad2 Deal for SMBs

There was always going to be a lot of excitement around the launch of the iPad2. As a business tool, its value is obvious, but one of the places Apple (news, site) is aiming to go with it is into the SMB space.

In the weeks leading up to the launch, there were numerous reports that, along with iPad2, Apple would be also launching a joint venture for SMB iPad users, which is said to target SMBs by offering them preferential prices if they decide to invest.

We’re still going through all the launch material from Wednesday’s launch event, but there are now reports from retailers across the US that before the event they were briefed on this new offering.

The main drive of this joint venture is a pricing scheme that would encourage SMBs to invest.  According to the reports, Apple is to charge US$ 499 for up to five users and $99 for each additional user/year and seems to specifically have companies with fewer than ten users in mind.

For that price, and with the joint venture, business users will get preferential support, have their iPads set up for them with software installed, connected to servers and email as well.

Users will also get personal setup data transfer, group training sessions (up to three sessions annually) and a scheduling website for phone support.

It’s not clear when this offer will come into play -- it may already be in place -- but if it’s not there now, then it will be soon. Enjoy your new iPad2!

SAP to Compete with Salesforce

SAP (news, site) too has been specifically targeting the SMB sector and has announced that it is expanding its cloud offerings and setting itself up here as a competitor for

SAP Sales OnDemand for SMBs is designed to help people working in sales collaborate on sales opportunities, manage customer information and improve cross-enterprise communication with a social media application that SAP says is similar to Facebook.

Like a lot of enterprise software that SAP is working on at the moment, it is based around the information management application Business ByDesign, enabling preconfigured functions such as customer relationship management, human resources management and even financial management.

When the application is launched, it is also expected to launch support for smart phones, iPhone, iPads and Blackberrys. The application is already doing the rounds of the trade shows, but as soon as it goes on general release, we’ll have a more detailed look at it. Should be out soon.

SMS, Clickatell

Clickatell (news, site), which specializes in Personalized Priority Messaging (PPM) across all media devices, has announced its US small business SMS messaging package to enable US companies to interact with and help customers via simple text messages.

According to Clickatell, the release addresses a need for businesses of all sizes to differentiate them by developing more direct customer relationships.

Key small business applications for PPM are demand creation, customer engagement, service delivery, transactional messaging and risk mitigation.

Clickatell's monthly service for US small businesses, starting at $24.95 per month, includes a dedicated number and up to 1,000 free outbound text messages per month. Additional outbound text messages are as little as 2¢ per message, and all incoming customer messages are free of charge.

Users gain access the service through a web browser -- no download or installation is required to get the Communicator 2 application from Clickatell up and running on the service. With Communicator 2, customers can import existing contacts and take advantage of time-saving contact management and quick-message templates. Interested in more?

Xerox Buys Concept

Meanwhile, just keeping on top of Xerox (news, site), the company continues its expansion in Europe with the acquisition of the Concept Group, which deepens its footprint in the SMB space.

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Livingston, Scotland, Concept Group provides document imaging solutions and technical service to more than 3,000 companies from Aberdeen to London.

Its more than 50 salespeople will begin selling Xerox’s market-leading document technology and services immediately. It’s not clear whether they will also be selling its document management technology, but if it’s not doing it already, you can bet that it will be doing it soon.

Over the last three years, Xerox has expanded its distribution to the European SMB market and has grown its managed print services delivery capability through two other acquisitions -- Irish Business Systems, Ireland, and Veenman, in the Netherlands -- and by broadening relationships with resellers.

Siemens’s New UC

Finally, a company we don’t hear much from in the content management space is Siemens. Today they caught our attention with the launch of deployment options for IP-based unified communications and collaboration (UCC) software for SMBs.

Available through Siemens Enterprise Communications' reseller partners, OpenScape Office V3 aims to help mobile workers and those in separate locations stay connected by offering a UC solution.

Using  OpenScape Office, mobile workers have access to UC tools and presence federation on mobile devices, helping them stay closer to key business partners while on the road. Presence and messaging is now also "federated," or interoperable, across OpenScape Office and Google through an open industry standard XMPP interface.