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Despite Upgrades, iPhone Still Having Problems at the Office

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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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