Product introductions by Apple are accompanied by speculation on what the iPhone 5 means for the enterprise. There are some significant differences in the context of these articles than when the initial iPhone was released in 2007, however.
Back in those days, Apple was not a mobile company and was largely unheard of in the enterprise, except perhaps for designers and related high-creativity arenas. Likewise, the company hadn’t committed itself to mobility. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend hadn’t started. Finally, the explosion of competition — much of it unleashed by Apple itself — has put pressures on vendors and carriers to introduce gear quickly and, perhaps, without as rigorous a field testing process as before.
It still is important to consider what a new iPhone means for the enterprise. It is important to note the change to the context within which this discussion should be held. At the highest level, it will make the snap judgments — good, bad or neutral — far fuzzier.
With that in mind, it seems that the corporate reaction to the iPhone 5 is mixed. BusinessInsider, for instance, is positive and points to four new features that are aimed at enterprises. They are Guided Access, Supervised Mode, flexibility in the ways in which devices can be locked down and the ability to link directly to the organization’s Internet access servers. This can help export company policies, such as blocking access to porn sites, to the iPhone, the story says.
eWeek’s Wayne Rash offers a mixed verdict. The bottom line is that iPhone 5 is an improvement in some areas over iPhone 4S, such as a faster processor and the ability to use Long Term Evolution (LTE). Much of the difference is access to the new operating system, iOS 6, which can be used on other devices. Whether or not the iPhone 5 is good for a particular business is more based on that organization’s needs and what the device offers. In other words, the iPhone 5 is not such a revelation that organizations should conform their game plan around it. Writes Rash:
As is always the case, the real decision comes down to the device you need, the device you have now and how much better one is over the other. For many organizations, the lower cost of getting the iPhone 4S more than offsets any advantage the extra performance may provide, especially if those organizations are already using existing iPhones and are getting adequate performance. Unless there's an obvious need for the larger screen or faster processor, then the cost savings may be the critical factor.
At ZDNet, Jason Hiner and Steve Ranger debate the impact of the iPhone 5. The question posed revolves around how big a deal the iPhone 5 will be to CIOs and whether Microsoft will offer a viable mobile alternative. The difference of opinion between the two participants isn’t as significant as it would have been a few years ago, when the question would have been whether the device would be sanctioned by IT. The bottom line: The “decision” on whom won the debate by Lawrence Dignan is that enterprises will be more measured in their response to the new device than they were to previous iPhone introductions. He said that Microsoft’s Windows 8 has an opportunity to make a big difference.
Finally, the speed at which vendors now have to bring products to market makes it far more likely that issues fall through the cracks. Reports are that the iPhone 5 is running hot. Byte’s Todd Ogasawara reports that his device reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit, which he said is too hot to handle. There are similar reports from elsewhere. It is too early to say whether this is a problem and, if it is, whether it is easily fixed. It also can’t be proven that the issue was caused by rushed development. But it is a possibility that is worthy of note.
The bottom line is that the iPhone 5 is a big deal. But, to enterprises, it just isn’t as big a deal as earlier versions of the iconic device.