SAN FRANSICO -- Here's a shocker: Apple ( AAPL) may just bootstrap itself up to small-business-player status in 2008, if this year's MacWorld Expo here is any indication.

Make no mistake: Apple equipment remains very much at the fringes of mass computing. Its share of the personal computing market rose 30% in 2007, according to market research firm IDC.

Let's be real though: That whopping increase was because the number was so low to start. Apple computers claim just 5.7% of the PC market.

But Apple and a host of other companies are trying hard to change that with some interesting new tools that can help you be more productive and profitable and make Apple equipment easier to integrate into your small business.

And considering what a leap upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista has turned out to be for many small businesses, Apples have become reasonable choices -- particularly for computer-based businesses.

Here are three pieces of business software worth considering:

Love That Ledger

MoneyWorks -- Starts at $100.

Open computing has come to everything from word processing to Web search so now it's accounting's turn.

Remember how old-school paper and ink ledgers looked, with all the entries right there in a big long list? MoneyWorks is just like that, except completely automated.

MoneyWorks -- perhaps the first 100% cross-platform accounting package for the small and medium business -- performs all the usual ledger functions, payables, receivables and bank reconciliations.

But it does so without proprietary files that can be read only by accounting packages or operating systems.

The ledgers contain all your information, so there's no need to create reports out of historical data. Every entry in every ledger is right there for you to see.

Though I was impressed with MoneyWorks, there is reason for caution: The company is very small, with just 15,000 users worldwide -- Trusting your business to such a small operation will require some careful provisioning.

Better Back-Ups

DocMoto -- Due out in mid-2008, price TBA.

Leave it to Apple to transmogrify the odious task of backing up your data into a chic new box worthy of advertising hipsters.

The company's new Time Machine back-up device is suddenly the cool new way to protect your stuff, but it's aimed mostly at individual users.

Now, newly launched CHL Software, based in England, is looking to take better back-ups to the small business level.

Its soon-to-be-released software, DocMoto, organizes and quantifies the process of saving different versions of the files in your business. The system can run on any Mac -- no special server required.

Not only does DocMoto save every iteration of every file, it tracks who made the changes and doles out permissions so revisions can be made only by authorized users.

Those who have worked in pricey Microsoft Exchange environments will find DocMoto's features familiar. Pricing isn't set, but the company claims its solution will cost far less than similar PC-based equipment.

Email Anywhere -- Starts at $9 per month per person.

The biggest slam against Macs is poor integration with Windows equipment. Small business owners would be wise to heed that criticism, because about the thorniest place for interformat squabbling is email.

Corporate email is still very much a Microsoft ( MSFT) thing.

Apple users face an almost certain freeze-out trying to get their portable devices to communicate with Windows email servers and other communications tools.

Well, San Diego-based has developed a work-around that can push your email out to your iPhone.

The code turns an inbound email into a Web-based message that can be accessed by any browser-enabled phone. The service then sends a quick text message to your iPhone with an embedded link: Open the message and you're reading your email.

In initial noodling here, the service worked, but I'll report how well it works in real-world testing in a few weeks.
Jonathan Blum is an independent technology writer and analyst living in Westchester, N.Y. He has written for The Associated Press and Popular Science and appeared on FoxNews and The WB.

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