ibmMaybe Big Blue has a bad case of iPhone envy. IBM said today it is launching a $100 million major research initiative to take mobile technology for businesses and consumers to new heights over the next five years.

The company said it wants to deliver simple, easy-to-use services to the millions of people who have bypassed using the personal computer as their primary method of accessing the Internet.

IBM notes that 83 percent of the world population doesn’t have access to a computer. The company has created a program in southern India that lets farmers, repairmen, small business owners and consumers post or exchange critical business information or process transactions via cell phones. After nine months, the company says it has gotten rave reviews. IBM is also looking at how to better serve people with targeted offers, based on their mobile transaction histories.

The company also wants to assert itself in the enterprise smart phone market by making phones even more essential for managing large forces of enterprise field workers, conducting financial transactions, entertainment, shopping, and more.

IBM has created a pilot project in which a technology dubbed BlueStar will enable mobile devices to automatically process insurance claims. The company says BlueStar lets people cut the time required to process claims by helping locate claims adjusters who are closest to the insured client. The project demonstrated how to deploy mobile apps to a large work force.

These strategies may sound familiar. And it’s interesting that IBM is announcing this just as Apple launches a new version of its iPhone software on Wednesday. While Apple clearly has the market’s attention, IBM hopes it can deliver innovations in the future that make mobile technology more capable and easier to use.

[photo: pocketpicks]

Are you an entrepreneur or executive active in mobile? Join us at MobileBeat 2009, our mobile conference for industry leaders, where we’ll be debating these ecosystem wars. Sign up soon.