iPhones sales may have made France Telecom bright during the holidays and it could truly be the most memorable new product launch for 2007, but that doesn’t mean your corporate IT organization should have to support it. At least, that’s the conclusion coming out of Forrester, […]

iPhones sales may have made France Telecom bright during the holidays and it could truly be the most memorable new product launch for 2007, but that doesn’t mean your corporate IT organization should have to support it. At least, that’s the conclusion coming out of Forrester, whose analyst Benjamin Gray, lists 10 reasons why the iPhone is not yet ready to be an enterprise-class mobile device.

It’s always possible that some of these obstacles will become history when Steve Jobs takes the stage at Macworld today, but read on for some of Forrester’s thinking…

The iPhone doesn’t support push business email or over-the-air calendar sync natively. Why should you care? Even if IT configures its infrastructure or installs a third-party mobile gateway, the device can only check for new email every 15 minutes. If you’re used to monitoring your new messages as often as you swallow, you may feel like you’re constantly in a state of suspended animation. Plus, you need a proprietary USB cable to sync up with your PC; it can’t be done wirelessly (even though the phone has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth). That means when meetings get rescheduled, you could miss notification.

The iPhone can’t secure data on the device through encryption. Likewise, most users probably don’t create passwords for their devices. The RIM BlackBerry or the Palm Treo both supply IT with full password control, so users have little choice but to follow the corporate-mandated security routine.

The iPhone doesn’t handle third-party applications well. If your company has a line-of-business program for its mobile sales force or mobile customer reps, it can’t be run on this phone. The official software development kit from Apple will come out in February; but until then, other platforms rule for the enterprise.

IT can’t lock or wipe a lost or stolen device remotely. There’s no management software that can handle it. Forrester expects that mobile device management vendors will incorporate Mac OS X into their list of supported operating systems, but it doesn’t believe that will happen before mid-year.

When the battery kicks the bucket, so does the device. No doubt, third-party vendors will fill the gap, but this isn’t a matter of flipping a cover off and plugging in the new battery. According to Forrester, the device needs to be dismantled, which means typical users will be at the mercy of corporate tech support to handle the job for them. Plus, since the iPhone is so popular for recreational use, the battery will drain faster than if it were purely a business device.

Are you convinced that the iPhone isn’t ready yet for the enterprise or has your company already declared support?

By Dian Schaffhauser

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  1. I think it depends on the job of the people in the company. Yes, I know this sounds like the old days and maybe even the current set up with the ad/communications/design department use Macs and everyone else uses PC’s but I think some of the things you mentioned above can be changed. My company is a small but growing design and communications firm and I do have an iPhone. We use it for several reasons;

    1.) A test bed for portable media projects we are working on
    2.) Customers who will be using it and we can support to a degree
    3.) To show off photos and web sites richly
    4.) As a networking “conversation piece” – believe it or not this is working out quite well.
    5.) To take photos discreetly and easily
    6.) and of course the phone and other personal contact apps are very easy to use.

    I find I am a lot more productive with certain takes than I was with other phones that had similar features but were harder to access.

    Maybe the iPhone is not appropriate for everyone and every business but I could see the following individuals leveraging the features and popularity of the device;

    1.) Marketers
    2.) Sales people
    3.) Photographers (not for serious work but for “spec” or something when the professional equipment is not around

    Now if your job is managing servers, accounting or other tasks, yes their are other devices that could be of better use. The iPhone is not really meant for “enterprise” anyway. It’s more of general consumer device like other products in Apple’s niche but I think it can have a place in the work force for certain tasks.

  2. Chalk this up as reason #5023 on why I love working for myself.

  3. Same here Adam!

  4. While I agree in general with the reasons and conclusions that iPhones aren’t a perfect fit for enterprises, a couple of things came to mind. I have a vague memory that users of Yahoo Mail were going to get mail pushed to the phone from the iPhone intro at last year’s Macworld. Maybe they were just talking about IMAP. Anyway, the other factor is that the iPhone is cool. And cool things get bought by bosses. Maybe it’s not true of ‘enterprises’, but in many businesses, when the boss brings in his toy to work, and it doesn’t do what he was hoping, things change to support the boss. I’m not saying that’s how it should be or that the above reasons aren’t valid- but not being a good fit for the enterprise will not keep them from infiltrating the enterprise.

  5. Pitch (via the Microsoft ad dept):

    iPhone Platinum Enterprise Plus with Outlook 2008 for Business

  6. What is this, 1998? Are talking about cellphones, Palms, laptops or home PCs used for business work? Because we’ve heard all of this before.

    New technologies and form factors designed for consumers are RARELY ready for the enterprise. IT can say that they are not going to support it, but users are going to use them in the enterprise anyway.

    Better to exert some oversight and control, find out how the device can really be used productively and actually deliver support to end users than to deliver edicts based on the flimsy issues outlined above.

  7. I am convinced! I used to work for an organization which gives a blackberry to every engineer/marketing person. E-mail support and encryption are a must have.

    Traditionally Apple has not done a good job selling to the enterprise. No wonder they missed the basics again.

    Its a cool looking shiny device for casual use!

  8. *yawn* I prefer my Blackberry anyway…I really don’t see the difference between sliding my thumb down the screen or down a wheel…oh wait, one leaves smudges, the other doesn’t.

    Mmm, and QWERTY keyboard with TACTILE feedback. Like someone said, the joys of working for yourself. If some company tried to force an iPhone on me, I’d probably quit.

  9. So you (and everyone else hopping on the bandwagon) are telling me the iPhone has issues.

    So it does.

    So did NT4. So did Mac OS7. So did Win2K. So did XP. So does Vista. So does Outlook. Exchange Server is widely held to be a travesty, but it’s just as widely used, from the small business on up.

    We’ve used all of these tools effectively in corporate environments for years despite CRIPPLING inefficiencies, viral threats, malware issues, and a host of other dangers to IT sanity (like users.)

    Why not give Apple a chance to expand and evolve their asset?

    It’s easier to bag it and feel comfortable with what you know. I understand that.

    Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  10. You do realise that you just said the equivalent of ‘This plum isn’t a very good orange.’

    The iPhone was never marketed as a corporate tool. It’s a consumer device. You can’t even *buy* one if your number is registered with AT&T via a business account.

    What a lame attempt at getting page views. “Oh I know, I’ll write about the iPhone! I’ll just make up some tripe!”


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