12 reasons why users prefer Outlook over Gmail at work

The best thing about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to talk to customers. It’s an honor and pleasure to hear them speak about our products and services. At times it’s humbling and at other times it leaves me with a sense of pride. I could talk to customers all day long and not be tired!

The conversation gets doubly exciting when the customer has switched from Google Apps for Business to Office 365. We see more and more customers and partners recognizing their love for Outlook. These organizations listened to their employees and decided that Office 365 was the right choice to keep their organization productive and satisfied. As I talk to these customers, there are a number of capabilities that they callout as missing in Gmail. Here are a few reasons that come up consistently with users who prefer using Outlook over Gmail.

1. Integration across email, calendar and contacts — Email is the primary mode of communication at work today. Customers tell us they look at Outlook as one place to effectively communicate at work to get things done. Whether it is to setup meetings, find more information about a contact, dial into conference calls or jump onto online meetings, Outlook is their hub. They tell us how they love the consistent experience of the inbox since it gets them going on their task without much thinking. As they start Outlook each morning, this consistent look gets them going every day with minimal to no training. Gmail on the other hand frequently tries a new experience e.g. new compose or new inbox.

2. Offline access to email —  A big topic in all our discussions is being able to work on email without worrying whether they are connected to Internet. Customers tell us when traveling on an airplane, their favorite work-related activity is to clear up their email backlog. Most of them work in Outlook during their journey. They can read and respond to email just like they would when they are at their desk connected to the Internet. As the Internet connection is re-established, the email is automatically sent. With Gmail offline, users have access to only past month’s email when there’s no Internet connection. Also, users can access their email offline on Chrome and Safari browsers only. By contrast, Outlook does not have these restrictions.

3. Organize email your way — Not all users work the same way. Some sort their folders alphabetically; others don’t. Some like to simply search for their email while others need the ability to look for their email in specific “bins”. As a result, they relate to folders in Outlook better. Users have limited ways to organize their email in Gmail. They are limited to only use labels to organize their email. Asking users to relearn their way of organizing email is simply unacceptable to them. As one user said, “it felt like trying to get work done with workarounds.”

 4. Categorize email items to stay organized — With Outlook, users have the ability to assign categories to various items (e.g. message, calendar appointment, task etc.) An item can be assigned multiple categories to classify it in more than one way. And those who need visual cues have the ability to color-code the categories. At a glance, users can see how they spend their time across different areas by looking at the color coding of the events on the calendar. Those who use categories and color coding to keep their work organized cannot imagine doing without it. These customers had to restrict themselves as they tried to use the colors to differentiate items in their inbox, tasks etc. in Google. The inability to associate colors with different items in email rendered color coding meaningless for these customers.

 5. Multiple ways to find email — Users need multiple ways to find their email. Using search to find email works mostly when users know what they’re looking for. But users insist “sometimes you just don’t know what to look for” and they have to rely on where they filed an email to go find it. The ability to sort email by date and size, to specify the timeframe, and to scope the places to look are all various ways to find the email when you don’t know how to describe your search. Outlook provides multiple ways to track down what users are looking for, whether its search, folders, categories, sort emails in inbox, search folders, etc. With Gmail, users do not have a way to sort email by size, date or sender and are stuck with just one thing – search!

 6. Flags, changing importance of email — Outlook makes it easy to flag email to grab quick attention. One customer described it as, “when I see a red exclamation marked email in my inbox, I know I have to get to it quickly.” The lack of the “red exclamation mark” in Gmail leaves users confused as to what email is more important than others. Because they cannot set the “red exclamation mark” while composing email, they are unable to get the right priority of attention to their email from their recipients. By contrast, Outlook makes it easy to not only include a “red exclamation mark” but also flag email for rapid follow-up or change the importance of an email to “low” to indicate lack of urgency. Customers tell us these seemingly little capabilities make users far more productive on daily basis than using Gmail without these.

 7. Rules to minimize email clutter — Customers tell us how much they love Outlook, and yet they continue to push us to help them better manage the clutter in their inbox. We continue to make progress on that front every day. Some users use rules to move items to various folders and assign categories to stay organized. This helps them remove unwanted email and minimize the clutter in their inboxes. Gmail has filter capability, but the actions you can take after you filter these emails is limited in nature. Customers tell us it is easier to setup rules in Outlook to flag important email based on the sender.

 8. Rich contact information — It’s great to hear users describe how they’re able to find someone’s office by looking at their contact card. Contact card in Outlook provides rich information about the user. The photo in the contact card enables users to associate faces with names. “Presence” information shows the status of the user, for example, whether they’re busy, offline, etc. Users can quickly and easily start a chat conversation with the contact, schedule an appointment, make a quick phone call, or start an online conference. And unlike Gmail, the contact card in Outlook also includes each person’s job title, department and location information.

 9. Scheduling meeting rooms – Outlook lets users schedule resources like meeting rooms, projectors, etc simply by adding them as a resource to your meeting. The resource then functions just like any attendee, including the ability to auto-respond to the meeting invite as well as the ability to see the free/busy schedule. Users who want to do this easily with Gmail end up frustrated as the experience of scheduling meeting resources with Gmail is a cumbersome, multiple-step process involving primary and secondary calendars.

 10. Mail tips — How many of you have inadvertently sent an email to a long distribution list instead of the one person that you intended to? I am sure many of you can relate to this scenario, just like I have embarrassed myself! For users like me, mail tips in Outlook is a savior. As you begin composing email, a message pops up to indicate that you might be sending mail to a large distribution list. It’s a good warning sign if it wasn’t the intention of your email. This is a great example of enabling you to make the right decisions, while continuing to help you be productive.This capability pops even more when the recipient of your email is on vacation or has their automatic responses turned on. As you begin composing the email, the automatic response message for the recipient shows up within the message, thus saving you the headache of waiting for the vacation response to plan the appropriate next follow-up action. Customers who have switched from Gmail love it when the mail tip pops up in Outlook telling them the urgent message might be headed for someone who is unavailable for a few days.

 11. Ignore conversations — Some conversations are worth ignoring. Often such conversations are an outcome of someone’s oversight or “who has the last say” attitude. Outlook has a very simple way to ignore such conversations. With a simple click, all existing and new emails in this conversation are moved to deleted Items folder, thus removing clutter from your inbox to help you focus on more important tasks at hand. Users also like the clean up option, where only the latest email thread with all comments is kept intact, while the rest of the emails are moved to the deleted items folder. All unique forked conversations are also kept intact to ensure all comments are still available in one place. With Gmail, users have a way to mute the conversation, but this capability is not easily discoverable and it does not work if the recipient gets added back on the To line of the email.

 12. Sharing and delegating calendars — Administrative assistants who are responsible for managing multiple calendars tell us that working with Google Calendar was one of the most painful experiences for them. With Google, they claim that they had a “calendar mess” to deal with, leading some to use paper-based calendars to keep things in check! With Google Calendar, you get the option to either share all details on the calendar or just the free/busy schedule. It does not have the ability to share the free/busy with just the subject of the events. It lacks the level of control as to what details to share. After switching back from Gmail to Outlook, customers have much better control over managing calendars. For example, users can decide whether to share each person’s “free/busy” status along with the subject for the meeting. They can also choose to share full details about each meeting including the subject, attendees, the location, etc. Once the calendar is delegated, administrative assistants can easily manage the delegated calendar alongside their own calendar in a simple side-by-side view and minimize the confusion of making changes to the wrong calendar!

Having spoken to so many customers who have switched from Google Apps during the past year, I can safely conclude that not everyone used Outlook the same way. Based on their role and organization, they missed Outlook for a variety of reasons. The core of what Outlook gives them is the ability to use it in a way that makes them more productive in their job, whether it is an administrative assistant helping the leader to be more successful or an executive sending a high importance email to the team. The choice and flexibility is what they missed the most about Outlook.

Please click through this slideshow to see some of the differences for yourself:

 –Sanjeevini Mittal

 

 

Kindred Healthcare: Using Office 365 to connect thousands of workers and lower costs

Charles Wardrip is Corporate Vice President of Operations and Telecommunications, Kindred Healthcare.

Kindred Healthcare logoKindred Healthcare is one of the largest providers of post-acute healthcare services in the United States. Today, we have approximately 76,000 employees delivering patient care across more than 2,100 locations. We operate transitional and in-patient hospitals and nursing centers, and we also offer contract rehabilitation staffing and services for non-affiliated providers nationwide. As you can imagine, with tens of thousands of employees working in diverse care settings across so many different geographic locations, one of our biggest, most persistent challenges is communication.

Our recent merger with RehabCare only magnified this challenge. Practically overnight, we added close to 12,000 employees to our operations. To make things more difficult, the RehabCare employees who joined our workforce all had Gmail accounts. At Kindred, we have a large on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 environment and had already been considering a move to a cloud-based email system; the merger just increased the urgency of our search. We wanted to connect all of our employees through a single communications and collaboration platform and to ensure that the new RehabCare staff felt included as part of the organization.

My IT team started comparing solutions from Google and Microsoft, and it quickly became apparent that Microsoft Office 365 was the best fit for Kindred. Exchange Online is designed to work with Exchange Server, so we knew that we could make the most of our existing investment and still provide a standardized set of tools across our entire business. Plus, capabilities like email retention, legal holds, eDiscovery, and encryption are must-haves for the healthcare business and help us adhere to the latest HIPAA rules.

We worked closely with Microsoft Cloud Vantage Services to assist with our move to Office 365. Our first priority was to migrate employees from Gmail to Exchange Online as quickly as possible. Cloud Vantage Services designed the migration process to meet our exact needs so that we could complete this important first step on a very tight schedule. I was definitely nervous about the transition, but it really couldn’t have gone any better. We were on budget, on schedule, and didn’t have any significant issues.

After the successful email migration, we put together a team with Microsoft to develop guidelines for social communications and then piloted solutions, such as skill search, user groups, and newsfeeds, using Lync Online and SharePoint Online. It didn’t take long to get it deployed to our 22,000 mobile employees.

Because all our employees are on Exchange, we’ve reduced management overhead and we don’t have to duplicate training and support efforts. Looking forward, we see the potential to move all of our employees to the cloud and further reduce our IT overhead.

Office 365 has really changed the way we work. Managers have told me that they can now provide more effective direction. And our providers are getting answers more quickly and sharing ideas for improving our business. Using Office 365 to improve communications and collaboration is strengthening our corporate culture and will help us to ultimately deliver better patient care at a better price.

To learn more about Kindred Healthcare check out the company’s official case study and video interview with Charles Wardrip.

 

SEPCOIII boosts employee productivity with switch from Gmail to Office 365

Energy company SEPCOIII had been using Gmail for external communication but found it unreliable and cumbersome. The company eventually switched from Gmail to Microsoft Office 365. We recently spoke to Pradeep Parmar, Director of Management Information Systems at SEPCOIII, to learn why:

Q: Please tell us about SEPCOIII.

Pradeep Parmar: SEPCOIII originally was the electric utility company for the Shandong province of China, and eventually shifted into designing and building power plants across China. In 2011, we decided to take the business global and opened up a regional office in Dubai to lead our international expansion.

Q: Why did you investigate a cloud services solution to manage your messaging and collaboration?

Parmar: We had been using a combination of IBM Lotus Notes for internal communication and individual Gmail accounts for external communication, but it wasn’t meeting our needs. We started investigating cloud-based solutions because we were growing quickly and IT is not our core business. We needed a single solution that required minimal capital investment, could be deployed very fast, and would offer world-class capability, reliability, and availability. We also wanted a solution that easily scaled up as we grew internationally.

Q: Why did you choose Office 365 over Google Apps?

Parmar: Gmail was very unreliable, and employees were losing email. Most found the calendar feature cumbersome and weren’t even using it. Employees were frustrated that the company didn’t have a stable, reliable email solution. The fact that Gmail provided limited offline functionality was also a problem. At project sites, where there was often no Internet connection, employees weren’t able to transfer files by email. This meant tasks that should have taken a few hours to complete were taking days and even weeks.

Given employees’ negative experiences with Gmail, we immediately ruled out Google Apps as we explored a new solution. Instead, we compared an on-premises Office solution with Office 365 in the cloud. We chose Office 365 after our analysis showed we could save an estimated 80 percent in IT hardware and administrative costs over a six-year period. In June 2012, we hired LiveRoute to deploy Office 365 in our Dubai office. Our goal is to move all 5,800 employees to Office 365 by the end of 2013.

Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?

Parmar: By moving to Office 365, we now have a robust and reliable email and collaboration solution that’s improving our productivity. Employees are no longer worried about losing email and have begun using shared calendars to quickly schedule meetings. They’re also using the offline capabilities of Office 365 to stay productive when there’s no Internet connection. In addition, we now use SharePoint Online as a central portal to store company documents, which means employees can access company information wherever they are, from nearly any device. If an employee leaves the company or loses his or her laptop, no problem; the information stays with the company. We’ve also replaced the majority of in-person meetings with Lync Online videoconferences, reducing our travel requirements. We are so relieved to be using Office 365. It’s a great platform that we can rely on.

Read the full story online. For more success stories about people like Pradeep, read other real-world testimonials on the WhyMicrosoft website.

Sensia Hälsovård AB chooses Office 365 over Google Apps, cuts travel costs by 30 percent

Healthcare provider Sensia Hälsovård AB needed a single communication and collaboration platform to accommodate its rapid growth. About 30 percent of its employees had been using Google Gmail, but found it cumbersome and unintuitive. The company eventually chose Microsoft Office 365. We recently spoke to Anders Franzén, IT Strategist, at Sensia Hälsovård AB to learn why:

Q: Please tell us about Sensia Hälsovård AB.

Anders Franzén: Sensia is a private healthcare provider with 35 locations across Sweden. We offer services in wellness, occupational health, primary and specialized care.

Q: What issues were you facing that led you to adopt Office 365?

Franzén: We made a series of acquisitions over a two-year period, and were experiencing tremendous growth. As a result, we had seven different IT systems, which made communication a big problem because it was impossible to maintain a distribution list for all of our employees. To communicate with our employees, we had to send an email to each manager, who would then forward it to his or her employees. We wanted to establish a single communication and collaboration platform so that we could communicate with all 600 employees at the same time.

Q: Why did you choose Office 365 over Google Apps?

Franzén: Before we moved to the cloud, about 30 percent of our employees were using Gmail, but the feedback we got is that they didn’t like it. Gmail wasn’t intuitive to use, and when employees got stuck, it was difficult for them to obtain support. Google isn’t a support company-that’s just not their focus.

In comparison, Office 365 feels like a more professional service. Many of our employees were already familiar with Office, and found it easier to use than Gmail. In addition, the built-in scalability of Office 365 was an important feature as we continue to grow. We can easily add 50, 100, or 600 new email accounts from one day to the next and easily federate these accounts using Active Directory. Few other solutions can handle that growth so seamlessly.

Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Office 365?

Franzén: Although we migrated seven different email systems, the process was quick and easy-it took less than a month and with Office 365, the support has been excellent. I’ve contacted Microsoft a couple of times, and I’ve gotten quick responses from very good support personnel. I’m very happy with it.

Our communication has improved tremendously. Employees can send email to anyone, we can chat using Lync Online, and we can see when users are online and when they’re in a meeting. It really feels like we are one company now.

Rather than traveling around the country, we now hold videoconferences using Lync Online both internally and externally. Our goal is to cut our traveling costs in half, and we’re already at  30 percent. Over time, we expect our doctors to use Lync Online even more to share information and obtain second opinions. Already, Office 365 is increasing staff productivity, which means less time sitting at the computer and more time serving patients.

 Read the full story online. For more success stories about people like Franzén, read other real-world testimonials on the WhyMicrosoft website.

Getting work done without workarounds

Nothing is more exciting for me than talking to Microsoft Office 365 customers. This experience is more special when they tell me Office 365 provides the features they need to stay organized and productive, rather than having to find workarounds in other products they’ve tried.

I recently hit the road to talk to customers who had tried using Google Apps for Business, but switched to Office 365 because they experienced too many workarounds to get work done. I could completely identify with the customer who was told she could not use “folders” in Gmail to organize her email, like she can with Microsoft Outlook. Instead, she had to use “labels” as the workaround.

Outlook Folders: Organize Email the Way You Expect

Each week, my third-grader brings a red folder home with his homework. We use blue and green folders to keep the Math and English homework packets separate as we work through his homework during the week. When the homework is completed, the folder goes to school for submission. In the same way, I use a red bin to keep all my invoices and bill payments and a green bin for personal subscriptions to magazines and deals that I sort on a weekly basis.

Folders in Microsoft Outlook are intuitive containers that can hold email similar to how you’d use folders for your own mail at home or homework at school. As you sort your inbox, you can move email to the relevant folder for future use.

Categories: A Colorful Way to Organize Email in More Ways

Outlook users who need to manage email that belongs in more than one place, can use “categories.” Categories help you classify email into various buckets that you can color code to spot them easily. You can define multiple categories and assign them to different email. You can assign more than one category to an email if you need it to be tagged as such. You can even assign these same categories to other items in Outlook such as “events” and “tasks” to keep all related items organized.

For millions of users worldwide, Outlook folders help keep email organized. The power of inbox rules helps them take organizing to the next level. Inbox rules help users automatically sort email into specific folders, categorize email, and get notified proactively as to when they need to break their routine to look at important email.

Unlike Outlook folders, Gmail “labels” does not follow the container approach. You are expected to categorize all your mail with labels. Sometimes I wonder whether these labels were designed to help users stay organized or to help improve Google’s search algorithms.

To think we all pile all our email in one place and only use labels to search and find is a crazy idea. It is as crazy as expecting a department store to only sell black shoes!

Searching Email: Several Ways to Find What You’re Looking For

With Outlook, finding email stored in folders is easy. It’s as easy as opening the folder you filed the email in and looking for it. The email in the folder can be sorted using various attributes of email. You can sort the email by sender’s name, subject of the email, date which the email was received, email with attachments, email with categories, and many more.

Search FoldersFor those of you who prefer to search for email rather than organize email in folders, searching for email in Outlook is easy. You can search using the “search box” at the top, choosing whether to look in the current folder, current mailbox, subfolders, all mailboxes, or all items in Outlook. You can even search based on sender’s name, subject of the email, whether or not the email has attachments, whether an email was flagged, whether an email was marked important,  and by many other attributes. Search capability is not just limited to email; you can even search for calendar events and tasks. Those of you who are looking for advanced options can also dig into some of the advanced search capabilities around Indexing as well.

And for those who get excited by the power of folders and search, “search folders” in Outlook is the perfect feature for you. Search folders are virtual folders that contain the view of email items that match a specific criterion that you define. You can easily create a search folder by clicking on search folders in the navigation pane in Outlook. For those who use categories for their email, the “categorized mail” search folder helps you locate the email that you had categorized previously. Similarly, for those of you who had flagged emails for follow up, “for follow up” search folders will help you find them all in one place.

With a feature-rich Outlook, every one of you can get your work done without using workarounds.

dmg Events excites workers, managers, and IT staff with move from Google to Office 365

International events producer dmg Events Middle East & Asia moved from an on-premises email system to the cloud-based Gmail system, and the move proved frustrating for employees and IT staff. When the Google contract came up from renewal, dmg decided it was time for a new email system. We recently spoke to Gehan Madhanayake, Head of IT at dmg Events Middle East & Asia, to learn why.

Gehan Madhanayake photoQ: Please tell us about dmg Events Middle East & Asia.

Gehan Madhanayake: dmg Events is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Daily Mail and General Trust, which is one of the largest media companies in the United Kingdom. We produce and manage conferences, exhibitions, publications, and online events for companies around the world in a variety of industries. We have 150 employees, and our Middle East & Asia headquarters is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Q: Why did you move from on-premises email to a cloud-based solution?

Gehan: We were using an on-premises instance of Microsoft Exchange Server, which was running at our parent company’s data center in the UK and caused some logistical problems for us. Because of the time zone difference, and because our work week runs from Sunday through Thursday, it was difficult to get timely support for email problems.

Q: Why did you choose Gmail as your first cloud email solution?

Gehan: When we made the transition in 2011, I’d had an opportunity to try out Microsoft Office 365, and I was very impressed by it, but it was not yet available in the Middle East. We didn’t want to put off our move to the cloud, so we felt that Gmail was the best option at the time.

Q: Why did you end up replacing Gmail with Office 365?

Gehan: We had troubles with Gmail right from the beginning. Our users were losing mail, and they were not at all happy with the interface. It was too cluttered, and users had difficulty finding the features they were looking for. The email editor in the Google Chrome browser was also missing some of the robust HTML formatting we were used to in Microsoft Outlook. Our managers noticed that employee productivity was down as a result of email frustrations, and on the IT side, we were frustrated by difficulties we encountered getting support from Google to solve our problems.

By the time our Google contract came up for renewal in 2012, Office 365 had become available in our region, so we decided to adopt Office 365 and move our email to Exchange Online. LiveRoute, our technology partner for the project, was a tremendous asset. LiveRoute is an Office 365 specialist, and they provided the experience and tools needed to complete the migration with no lost email and no downtime for the business. We completed the entire migration in two weeks, and it went very smoothly.

Q: What benefits are you experiencing by using Exchange Online and Office 365?

Gehan: Our users love the email system and Outlook Web App. Our managers have seen productivity go up, and on the IT side, our support call volume is way down, so we can devote more time to other projects. That includes building a new company intranet with SharePoint Online, which is a great tool. We are also using Lync Online for messaging, and people love it. It’s easy to log on from anywhere and see who is online and send them a message. All in all, Office 365 is a brilliant solution that is easy to use and full of great features.

Read the full story online. For more success stories about people like Gehan Madhanayake, read other real-world testimonials on the whymicrosoft website.

Office 365: Ready for your business

But what exactly is “enterprise-ready?” In a nutshell, it means that the solution was designed, tested, and implemented with businesses and their business needs in mind.

Microsoft Office 365 does exactly that. It takes the well-known and frequently used Microsoft Office productivity tools many organizations rely on-such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint-and delivers them as cloud-based applications. Office 365 is composed of cloud versions of Microsoft communication and collaboration services-including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online. The result is an enterprise-ready set of productivity tools that make it possible for businesses to do more with less.

…(read more)

Berkeley Explains Exactly Why It Chose Google Over Microsoft

Matt Rosoff | Dec. 23, 2011, 12:36 AM

Image representing Google Apps as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

The University of California at Berkeley just decided to move off its old email system. It chose Gmail over Microsoft’s Office 365.

Usually, the decision-making process that goes into such a choice is shrouded in secrecy. But Berkeley decided to be transparent, and published a matrix explaining the pros and cons of both solutions.

In basic terms, Cal decided it could get Google Apps up and running faster and for less money.

Read more [here].

Gmail Priority Inbox Launches: Your E-mail Will Never Be the Same

Exquisite-gmail blue
Image via Wikipedia

Gmail Priority Inbox: 5 Tips for Better Productivity

With the launch of Priority Inbox, a radical new way to sort mail, Google has hugely changed the way you can process and manage email. As Gmail Product Director Keith Coleman says, “Once you go priority, you never go back.”

Read more at http://mashable.com/2010/08/31/priority-inbox-tips/.

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