Despite Upgrades, iPhone Still Having Problems at the Office

Carl Weinschenk

It's difficult to assess how seriously Apple really takes the iPhone as a business device. After all, if it thought it would unseat -- or even get a seat close to -- Research in Motion's BlackBerry, it would have done things a lot differently the first time around.


Perhaps its apparent ambivalence is because it reached a conclusion similar to those found by Sanford Bernstein in a study released this week. The firm found that only two of 105 CIOs planned to roll out the iPhone during the next year. An analyst who worked on the study was quoted in this Financial Times piece posted at the Business Standard as saying the iPhone rollouts may be driven by employees bringing them to work. This, of course, is not a best-practice deployment method.


If Apple indeed is hoping to penetrate the enterprise, ComputerWorld has some bad news for it. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, despite giving a positive report on consumer aspects of iPhone 3G, said that not enough information is available to judge whether the device is prudent for businesses. He said that the use of iTunes to deliver applications is not acceptable and that the absence of native encryption meant that federal workers, banks -- and presumably others -- won't use it.


Dulaney, it should be noted, initially said that the original iPhone was not appropriate for business but changed his mind after some adjustments were made. J.Gold Associates' Jack Gold also weighed in, releasing a report that said the iPhone 3G is not ready for the enterprise. He also cited the lack of encryption.


Another sign that the corporate future of the iPhone still is unsettled is uncertainty on the pricing structure. This iPhone Atlas piece mostly focuses on what appears to be AT&T confusion on how corporate accounts will be handled. However, it is highly unlikely that such confusion would exist if there was a definitive on the topic between Apple and the carrier.


The bottom line is that RIM has quite a lead. Electronista looks at a ChangeWave study that pretty clearly delineates the task Apple has ahead of it. The firm said that 76 percent of 2,000 corporate IT "spenders" -- the story doesn't clearly define how it used the term -- bought BlackBerries in May. This was 3 percent more than when the survey was last conducted in February. Palm took second place at 17 percent. Anticipated demand for BlackBerries will jump to 82 percent during the summer, with iPhone taking 13 percent, 2 percent more than in the February study.


It seems that Apple has a lot to prove if it wants the iPhone 3G to be an enterprise hit. So far, the signs are that it is not aggressively moving in this direction. Apple is a smart company, and no doubt realizes that a half-hearted effort is worse than no effort at all.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 25, 2008 7:21 PM Nikolas Kinze Nikolas Kinze  says:
The truth is, Apple has never been a "corporate" player. Apple has always fit into a niche market that it carved out with the advent of the Mac.The fact that the iPhone lacks encryption or other items that would suit it to corporate use is probably intentional. Apple has always played to the people who want to be "sophiscticated" , those people who want to be set apart from others. Reply
Jun 25, 2008 7:29 PM Michael Finneran Michael Finneran  says:
Hi Carl,I don't think the problem with the iPhone 3G in enterprise environments has as much to do with encryption as it has to do with functionality. It now has state-of-the-art WiFi security (WPA2/802.1x) and Cisco VPN support; the browser also has SSL capability. The vulnerability to malware is still an open question, and the hackers will be going after the iPhone in droves.The bigger problem is that the touch screen keyboard is not very good for email, and that's the number one enterprise application.Here's my post on it from UC Strategies:http://www.ucstrategies.com/detail.aspx?id=3092 Reply
Jun 26, 2008 11:00 AM Ahmed Ahmed  says:
I think some of the criticisms are unfounded.- Corporates that want to control the phone have the parental controls that will be added in v2.0. - They also have the remote wipe functionality from the addition of Active Sync. - To distribute their own software corporates can use their own server but have to pay higher 'developer' charges.- The lack of on device data encryption could a problem though. I wouldn't want business data that on an iPhone to be accessible to a thief after he's stolen the device. The remote wipe helps but only if the device connects to the carrier (I'm guessing) so on-device encryption would be key. Although I've been told that the device can't be connected to a computer as an hard drive like iPods can so data is only accessible through the iTunes software - and files can't be copied over to it, only music, videos, pictures, email etc. Is that correct? Reply
Jul 6, 2008 1:16 PM Peter Serwe Peter Serwe  says:
I for one, want on device encryption.Secondly, I'd want access to the HD.Thirdly, how long do you give before the 3G has a good version of jailbreak for it?Lastly, by the time I carry around a bluetooth keyboard, an iPhone, and whatever other miscellanous accessories, why not just carry a laptop? It's a cute toy, but just like a crackberry, I'd rather not have people thinking they can email me and get a response from me in the car.Additionally, email and SMS messaging are basically throwbacks to 19th century communications. Why are so many people fond of having a series of monologues when a simple voice call (be it VoIP, cell or PSTN), accomplishes much more, much faster.Peter Reply

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