Enterprise iPhone?

by Sachin Balagopalan on March 9, 2008 · 1 comment

This week Apple finally unveiled it’s long awaited SDK for the iPhone and right off the bat it was pretty apparent that this was a huge announcement at all levels. Besides the fact that the SDK will provide a set of API’s allowing developers to write native iPhone apps, the icing on the cake so to speak was that Apple intends on bringing the iPhone into the enterprise realm and potentially compete with Blackberry in that space.

We’ve been hard at work trying to understand what it takes to bring the iPhone out across enterprise.” Here’s the list.
Push email. Great calendar integration - pushed to them over the air all day long. Push contacts. Global address lists. Additional VPN types, including Cisco IPsec VPN. Two-factor authentication, certificates and identities. Enterprise-class Wi-Fi, with WPA2/802.1x. Tools to enforce security policies. Tools to help them configure thousands of devices as they deploy iPhones and set them up automatically. And they want the ability to protect that data by remotely wiping it.“That’s a long list of important features,” Schiller says. “They say if we just did these things, it would really help adoption in the enterprise. And we’re doing all of these things in the next release of the iPhone software.

The next major iPhone software update (2.0) is slated for June and IMO barring any catastrophic hiccups is going to be a defining moment in mobile enterprise computing. The biggest bang for the buck is going to be the push-based services for enterprise email, contacts and calendar. Blackberry currently does have push-based email via their proprietary enterprise server. iPhone 2.0 on the other hand is going to include Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology so Microsoft Exchange servers will be able to instantaneously “push” messages to the device. The same goes for calendar and contacts where the user will no longer have to sync their devices to get an updated calendar or contact data. There is also a similar initiative taking place with IBM to have their Lotus Domino servers to do the same but in all probability that won’t make it into the 2.0 release.

By all accounts it seems like we’re going to see a perfect marriage between a slick UI and a robust back end that provides the necessary services to the enterprise user once iPhone 2.0 is released in June. The SDK includes their touch/gesture based UI framework called Cocoa Touch which is the differentiating factor and IMO potentially cause for concern for Blackberry (in addition to the highly publicized outage issues recently).

However at the end of the day Blackberry is the de facto device when it comes to mobile enterprise computing. It has been tried and tested and for years hoards of users have relied on it to keep up with the office while not at their desks. I think it’s going to be a tall order to have a loyal following like that switch over in spite of the obvious slickness of the iPhone. It’s up to the IT departments IMO to articulate and come up with a strategy to effectively roll out the iPhone to the masses. In spite of it’s intuitiveness and usability the iPhone touch keyboard for example is not bullet proof. There is a danger that users may find it hard to get used to or flat out hate a non-tactile input device. Unlike the typical non-business user who may have the time and patience to get used to the touch keyboard an enterprise user may not be that accommodative. The other issue is of-course perception. Apple products have always been perceived to be predominantly consumed by non-business consumers and that image sticks with the iPhone as well. I think Apples strategy to parter with educational institutions like Stanford University to deploy the iPhone enterprise wide bodes well for the perception issue.

Personally I’m glad Apple took that extra step and decided that if they’re going to expose their platforms via the SDK then they might as well target a new demographic as well. IMO unlike other hand held devices the iPhone has a full OS running it - the same MAC OS that powers the iMac and the Mac Books (and not a lite version) runs the device. Now with the SDK the possibilities seem endless.

This will be a good one to watch this summer!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

USB 3G 12.06.11 at 8:40 pm

This imformation is a great help. Try to keep your imformation. I and other people need to understand about it. Thank you !

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