by James A. Martin

VIPorbit Puts New Spin on CRM iPhone Apps

Feb 06, 20123 mins
CRM SystemsiPhone

VIPorbit is among the most full-featured customer relationship management (CRM) apps you can get for the iPhone. The interface is well organized, you can record unlimited notes for each contact, and the app lets you organize contacts into Orbits, among other things.

VIPorbit claims to be “the only full-featured contact manager” for the iPhone. While there are a number of customer relationship management (CRM) apps for iOS devices, VIPorbit is certainly among the most full-featured of the lot. It’s also a pleasure to use and reasonably priced.

The CRM app from VIPorbit Software was updated on Jan. 27 to version 2.0. It’s available in both a free and $10 version for the iPhone and iPod touch. The free app limits you to 100 contacts—which, in my experience, is a significant limitation. I suggest giving the freebie a try and if you like it, spring for the paid version. The $10 app is on sale for only $5 until March 1. (I tested the “lite,” or free, version.)

VIPorbit’s interface is one of its best assets. It’s well organized and easy to navigate. The Dashboard (see the screen shot) gives you an at-a-glance view of activities for the day, including meetings and to-do items.

In keeping with its name, the app lets you group contacts into “Orbits.” For example, you might have one Orbit for clients, another for colleagues, and so on. With a few screen taps, it’s easy to see calendar appointments, to-do items, calls, vipLinks (connections you make between contacts), and more for each contact.

VIPorbit also lets you record unlimited notes for each contact. From within the app, you can connect with a contact by phone, email, SMS, Skype, Twitter, or Facebook. When you reach out to someone, the software automatically generates a communication log, so you can keep tabs. And VIPorbit enables you to send email or SMS to an entire Orbit or a custom list of contacts.

Another nice feature: You can backup your VIPorbit data to the cloud using VIPorbit’s Backup My Stuff feature for $5 a year. Unfortunately, on multiple occasions, I couldn’t get VIPorbit to connect with iTunes to make that purchase. (The company says the bug has been fixed in an update that’s set to hit iTunes soon.)

As I mentioned earlier, VIPorbit isn’t the only CRM app for iOS. Among the other options are Zoho CRM from Zoho Corp. and 37signals’ Highrise. They’re both free but require that you use the Zoho and Highrise Software-as-a-Service offerings, which are available in free (for very limited versions) or paid service plans. VIPorbit makes no such demands. Though I’ve not tested Zoho CRM nor Highrise, both have average-to-low user ratings for their current versions on iTunes.

An app like VIPorbit Software feels a bit pinched on an iPhone screen. Fortunately, the company plans to release an iPad version soon. (The company released an iPad version in late January but had to pull it because “Apple released a prior beta version that was not the latest version of the app,” according to a company spokesperson.) Also in the works: A new feature for the iPad and iPhone versions called VIPsync, which will keep VIPorbit data in sync between the apps on both devices. A Mac version of VIPorbit is planned, too.