Although they don't directly concern the typical gadget fan, corporate I.T. purchases actually count for a lot in the books of many hardware makers.

When it comes to phones, smart devices like the BlackBerry range have ruled the roost for several years now – that's something Apple wants to change by getting the iPhone in the pockets of business suits worldwide.

Handy package

One of the first such deals sees Softbank Mobile, the iPhone carrier in Japan, supplying 1,000 Apple handsets to consulting firm BearingPoint.

The firm says it chose the iPhone for its analysts and other staff to consolidate the unwieldy separate PC, modem and mobile arrangement they currently have to carry around when offsite.

Point to be made

If the move is a sign of things to come, Japan could become an important proving ground for the iPhone as a business tool.

To date, other smartphones have been thin on the ground there, with sightings of BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices about as common as snow in July.

For local people

That has partly been because phones that are most useful when synced with a PC aren't appealing in a country where most people don't own a computer, but also because Japanese networks stuck with tried-and-trusted local manufacturers for years.

Now that the market is saturated, it appears the time to look overseas for new phone technology is finally upon the Japanese.