The Enterprising of the iPhone Begins

Carl Weinschenk

The path of the iPhone changed this week when Apple said that it will eliminate many of the issues that have kept it from becoming a mainstream enterprise tool.


The changes were announced at the company's offices event in Cupertino, Calif. This ZDNet piece provides a bulleted list of what Jobs and Co. announced, and links to more extensive coverage. Apple, the piece says, allows the iPhone to support global address lists reachable by push, adds IPSec VPNs, accommodates security policies, and enables remote wiping and Exchange support.


This is a direct challenge to the established order of enterprise widgetry, which is headed by Blackberry. There is potential growth in this sector. This NewsFactor piece, which was published in anticipation of the announcements (but without specific knowledge of what they would be) discusses an interesting survey from ChangeWave. The survey offers some good news for RIM. The number of IT decision makers who use the Blackberry will remain steady. Seventy-three percent of more than 2,000 surveyed IT executives use the device now, and 77 percent will buy it in next year. (The story is a bit loosely worded; the assumption is that it is an apples-to-apples comparison).


There are some warning signs for RIM in the study, however. The iPhone, ChangeWave suggests, is sneaking up quickly: Palm now is second to the Blackberry at 18 percent, while in 2009 the iPhone will be the runner up with 11 percent. The piece also points out that corporate users base that says they are "very satisfied" with Blackberry has dropped 8 percentage points to 47 percent, while iPhone is first, at 60 percent, in the satisfaction category.


The iPhone and Blackberry may end up being the Obama and Hillary of the enterprise tech sector. A lot of the articles are comparing the two phones. This piece at TUAW is representative. It compares usability and setup and synch. The writer concludes that the devices both do their jobs efficiently for their core users. The Blackberry focuses on e-mail and phone and the iPhone on multimedia applications. The writer also notes that the Blackberry has been around for a lot longer, while the iPhone is still in its infancy.


Though the tenor isn't good for RIM -- Apple is invading its core business, after all -- the news isn't all bad. A replace posted at CNN Money says that Blackberry's subscriber rolls increased 15 percent to 20 percent more than anticipated during the quarter that ended on March 1. The raw numbers saw 2.09 to 2.18 million new subscribers, while initial predictions were 1.82 million. The Blackberry now has about 14 million subscribers.


Despite the buzz over Apple's iPhone push into the corporate market, this Financial Post piece suggests that analysts think that RIM has a decided advantage because of the Blackberry's deep entrenchment in the corporate field. The piece -- which also reports on the ChangeWave research -- suggests that RIM's "robust and secure end-to-end" messaging puts it far ahead of Apple. Seeking Alpha, however, is a bit more favorable to the iPhone. The writer says that Blackberry's browsing is "second rate" and points out that the corporate smartphone market is unsettled. The iPhone could make a mark -- especially if Apple lowers the $399 price tag.

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