iPhone Enterprise Anxieties Mon 30 Jun 08
About a year ago the corporate information technology (IT) world was filled with angst awaiting the roll-out of the new iPhone. If the pundits and the hype were to be believed, the day after the iPhone came out we'd find all the executives queued up outside our doors demanding that we get them this cool new iPhone and somehow figure out how to connect it to the corporate e-mail system too. At the time, I predicted that this would turn out to be much ado about nothing. Happily, I was spot on. From a corporate perspective the "cool" factor wasn't enough to overcome the issues of cost and the inability to connect with corporate e-mail systems.
Apple is now set to launch its 3G iPhone and is taking aim squarely at the corporate user, no doubt hoping to displace the corporate standard BlackBerry. The 3G, which stands for "third generation" and promises the latest in high-speed Internet access for your phone, has certainly edged closer to meeting corporate needs.
But is it enough? On July 11, when Apple starts shipping the iPhone, will we find hoards of colleagues at our door, demanding iPhones?
The biggest obstacle to the iPhone was e-mail. According to Apple's Web site, 3G provides "support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and industry-standard corporate security standards allows IT professionals to seamlessly integrate iPhone into their corporate environments."
Taking Apple at its word, I'll give them credit for e-mail and check that box off. However, as Brian Caulfield points out in his article "Seven iPhone Disappointments", there are numerous other shortfalls compared to the BlackBerry that may keep people from switching.
Here's the big one for me: the fundamental approach that Apple and BlackBerry have taken. One puts consumers first; the other puts business executives first.
Apple is primarily a music player and phone that can now also do e-mail. BlackBerry has from the start focused primarily on providing the business user with an e-mail device that also works as a phone. A subtle difference perhaps, but it would appear to have a resulted in significantly different outcomes.