The question of whether the iPhone will make a play for the enterprise has been answered. The launch earlier this month of iPhone 3G business applications at the App Store is a clear indication that Apple is pushing hard to create an enterprise presence.
Apple is licensing ActiveSync from Microsoft, according to this Internet News piece. Of course, iPhone faces significant challenges. The device is glitzy, but the decision on letting it into the enterprise or not will be made by IT -- not teenagers. Apple is facing competitors such as BlackBerry and Windows Mobile that have significant head starts. There are technical issues as well, including uncertainty over the durability and the inability of users to replace the battery.
This is an interesting look at the iPhone by eWeek Labs. At the start, the writer goes through the improvements Apple made with business in mind. In addition to adding ActiveSync, the device now has a Cisco Internet Protocol Security virtual private network (IPSec VPN), Wi-Fi Protected Access and WPA2 Enterprise security, digital certificates and the ability to restrict access to applications. The report, which seems subtly positive, runs through a user's experience. The push e-mail feature, the writer cautions, is such a battery-killer that he eventually turned it off and manually synched e-mail.
This TG Daily piece, which is part business commentary and part analysis, is worth a read but appears a bit one-sided. It positions the iPhone as a serious threat to BlackBerry. The writer suggests that iPhone has a rosy enterprise future and that Research in Motion -- BlackBerry's manufacturers -- are facing its first serious competition. The writer seems to sell the BlackBerry a bit short and doesn't touch on potential obstacles to the iPhone, such as the well established relationships RIM has developed or potential technical challenges.
Network World takes a look at some of the business-oriented applications available for the iPhone. Salesforce Mobile, used with United Edition Salesforce or a Mobile License, allows Salesforce information to be stored on the device. Oracle's Business Indicators are available through iTunes, but require other Oracle software to run. (A critical look at Oracle's iPhone strategy is available from TMC.net.) Omni Group's OmniFocus for iPhone is a task-management system. The piece mentions applications aimed at business travelers from Frommers, Hotels.com and Expense2GO. Home office applications include ZeptoPad and QuickVoice.
The Boy Genius Report ran a long comparison of the iPhone 3G and the BlackBerry Bold, which is the new name of the BlackBerry 9000. Wired's Cheat Sheet boils it down to the highlights and provides a link to the original report. The iPhone has the better design, build quality and operating system. The Bold wins in battery life, e-mail, keyboard and corporate use. Size, screen, call quality and pricing are ties.
It will be interesting to watch how much progress Apple makes in the enterprise. IT departments are a tough bunch, but they to can be swayed -- at least to some extent -- by cool new devices.