A company headed by SAP's former North American CEO is rolling out more than 40 mobile applications that tie into the vendor's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.

Vivido Labs' Mowego "micro-applications" focus on doing one horizontal task well, such as expense report filing and purchase approvals, said CEO Greg Tomb.

The software represents an improvement on other mobile ERP efforts, according to Tomb. In the past, "people have replicated a backend transaction on a frontend device. That's hard enough to do on a normal PC instead of one that's one-tenth the size." Instead, Vivido's apps try to "entirely rethink the way to do that business process using a small, handheld device," he said.

The company is aiming the apps at casual users, "not the person who's pounding on the backend ERP system eight hours a day," so the interfaces are kept "Sesame Street simple," Tomb added.

While focusing on SAP at first, Vivido created its Java-based development platform in a way that allows it to target other software products as well. Customers are already looking at tying the applications into Oracle's PeopleSoft ERP software, he said.

Vivido is using a "very inexpensive" subscription pricing model, charging per user, per year, per application, he said. There are no limits on usage.

Some of the Mowego programs are web-based, but most are native to mobile devices. "Native apps tend to look and feel better than a web app," he said.

Apps will run on the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-based smartphones. Other platforms are "coming soon."

While on-premise ERP software sales dropped like a rock for many vendors, including SAP, during the recession, Vivido has had luck so far, and for good reasons, Tomb said.

Mobile applications can provide a quick productivity boost for customers, and Vivido is "not asking them for lots of money, and not pitching them a long project."

Vivido Labs will compete with other SAP-centric mobile technology, including ERP and CRM (customer relationship management) integrations developed under a partnership SAP formed with Sybase last year.

SAP has also made investments in mobile technology, last year acquiring startup SkyData, maker of a mobile mashup platform.