|By Matthew David||
|July 17, 2009 09:00 PM EDT||
Will Corporate America Embrace the iPhone?
Apple is a “change” company. Look at their track record: Mac II, iMac, iPod and now the iPhone. What has not changed, however, is the view of Apple a company that delivers only consumer based products. Apple simply is not perceived as an Enterprise company. Apple is working to change this perception. It is a slow process but something came along to change the pace: the iPhone.
Enterprise Tools coming to the iPhone
Apple is looking to “wow” the professional market. For this to be successful, Apple meet certain base criteria. For instance, many enterprises need support for Microsoft Exchange; there must be strong support for industry VPN solutions, you have to be able to control who can view and who can not view content on an iPhone. Any stolen iPhone must have the ability to be whiped clean by a remote administrator. The last thing any corporation needs is for their secrets to be leaked simply because you left your phone on the plane.
So is Apple delivering on this? You bet, and in spades. Check out these features you will have on the iPhone:
- ActiveSync for Exchange email, calendar and contact synchronization
- connection to VPN networks using CISCO’s software
- ability to remotely “wipe” an iPhone if is stolen
- develop custom applications and deliver them securely
- thousands of custom business apps available for any iPhone user
Of these, it can be argued that connectivity with Exchange is the biggest winner. Talk to anyone who works in the field and you will understand how difficult a problem connecting people not tied to a desktop really is. RIM saw that this was a problem and delivered the BlackBerry, a run away success. Apple is looking to duplicate the same success.
Will companies bite at the bait? This is a tough question that has two fields of thought: the “yes, they will love it” supporters and the “there is no way I will let a consumer product into my company” supporters.
If you have ever used an iPhone, you know how slick the interface is. The “yes, they will love it supporters” have a strong case to put forward. The phone is easy to use and comes with all of the modern tools you would expect. In addition, if speculation is correct, you can even expect 3G, GPS and a 5 Mega Pixel version of the iPhone shortly.
However, a stumbling block that Apple will need to cross is the impression that the iPhone is a consumer product. This represents the other group. You have an iPod, digital camera, image gallery tool, Web access and a lot of games. Companies are wrestling with their employees to reduce the number of distractions they have not increase them. Is the iPhone too powerful and do too many “PC” like things?
The 800lb. Gorilla in the room: AT&T
At the end of the day I do not think that the phone’s ability to play games will stop companies embracing the iPhone. The big negative for the iPhone is really not the phone itself. It’s the carrier. Corporations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on phone lines. If you have a large sales organization then you know how large your cell phone bills are today. Corporate cell phone negotiations take time and money and are not all tied to AT&T. To use the iPhone you need an AT&T contract in the US. This is a huge stumbling block for Apple and one that they have been tied to for two years.
It is not that AT&T is a bad company, it is the simple fact that they are not the only company. Apple has now released three versions of their iPhone and they have all appeared on AT&T shelves an no-one elses. This is not the case for other countries where laws mandate open competition. Australia, for instance, has five mobile carriers offering the iPhone.
For corporate America to fully embrace the iPhone, Apple must find a way in which they have have other carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile sell the iPhone.
The bottom line
Needless to say, the iPhone has arrived to the corporation. Apple has sold 22 million iPhones which means you will have some in your company. The same thing happened with BlackBerry’s three years ago. The choice is plan for the iPhone or hide your network from the iPhones inside your corporation.
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