Why Corporate IT Shouldn't Support Your iPhone

47 Comments

[digg=http://digg.com/gadgets/Why_Corporate_IT_Shouldn_t_Support_Your_iPhone]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?

47 Comments

buford puser

Jake says: January 16th, 2008 1:16pm

BTW, my AT&T number was setup with a biz account and I setup my iphone without issue.

Ryan Dagey says: January 16th, 2008 2:50pm

@Tom
I got the iphone on a business account, no idea where you got your information.

Maybe AT&Ts website?: “iPhone service is available only to personal accounts.” (see http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/iphone-faqs.jsp)
Those of us who have actually bought & used an iPhone (as opposed to those who want to cloak their Apple-bashing in a false veneer of actual experience with the product) know that the only way to buy an iPhone with a business ATT account is to close it and open a personal account: I was outraged when I found out that I couldn’t use my new phone because I was a long-term business user. After hours on the phone with manager after manger telling me no iPhone service for business accounts, I closed the account & put my work cell number on a personal count.
While it is a pain to have to submit the bill to the accounting department every month, my iPhone has made me so much more productive my boss is now planning to buy one (having already ditched her Windoze laptop for a MacBook after drooling over mine!).

bill baker

As the Blackberry Enterprise Server admin for my agency, currently supporting about 160 Blackberry users and another 30 or so Windows Mobile 5 and Windows Mobile 6 users on a handful of “smart” phones, I am happy to weigh in on this. My iPhone, despite its few temporarily missing features, is the best mobile device I have used. And I’ve used and evaluated and otherwise been subjected to the torments of A LOT of mobile devices over the past couple of years. I agree that at this moment, the iPhone may be missing some features that would make it a dealbreaker for someone needing to pull the trigger on a purchase today, but I foresee a point just a month or two down the road where these deficiencies have been addressed and the iPhone becomes that much stronger at that point. It’s already a capable device, turning the development community loose on it is only going to drive that point home even moreso. I would say that while this verdict is sound logic at the present moment, business would be doing itself a disservice to rule the iPhone out as ever being an “enterprise-class” device. 60 days may make all the difference.

Zimmie

Of course it doesn’t do those things. There are plenty of other problems for businesses using it. Then again, Apple never marketed it as a business phone. It is quite clearly marketed as an iPod. Do people buy iPods to do their work? No.

How is this news?

-=v00d00=-

I think what the author intended to do is not bash Apple and the iPhone, but demonstrate the risks involved in using them in a corporate environment. Yes, the boss may love an iPhone, but if it fails to comply with the corporate defined security standards practices and policies then it should not be allowed for official business use. Simply put, a CEO/CIO/CFO may have critical and confidential information on an iPhone and it can be left completely unprotected in the event of the iPhone being lost or stolen. This is simply not acceptable in our current culture of identity theft and corporate espionage. Organizations have to have sound and reasonable policies in place to protect the business from unnecessary risk; people running around with company confidential emails and data on iPhones is clearly an unacceptable risk given the devices complete lack of features to secure such data.

BTW… Kendall, “Encryption” capabilities does not entail simply SSL and VPN, security 101. That is data in transit, not at rest. SSL isn’t going to protect your iPhones data when lost or stolen. Windows Mobile and BlackBerry both provide capabilities for AES 256 encryption of devices storage and storage cards which iPhone does not. Windows Mobile and BlackBerry both provide the ability to remotely “wipe” devices and/or force locking mechanisms such as PIN or password… not the iPhone. I know the iPhone is a great device, but you cannot simply leave your common sense at the front door because you love Apple and Steve Jobs.

His Shadow

“”
Robert: If some company tried to force an iPhone on me, I’d probably quit.””

Goodbye, Robert. Don’t let the future hit you on the ass on the way out.

Jack

You forgot the complete absense of enterprise grade wireless encryption. Lacking WPA-EAP support, the iPhone cannot sign on to WiFi with personal credentials and crack-proof passwords. WPA-EAP is the standard and widely supported wireless authentication scheme. Devices from Windows XP and Mac OS X to Nokia phones work with it; the iPhone doesn’t.

I can’t see many network administrators setting up low security iPhone-only wireless APs with shared office-wide passwords. This is even a problem on university campuses where there are less stringent security requirements.

His Shadow

Just another load of anti-Apple guano.

Here’s a clue, dorks-who-think-they-know-what-business-needs.

A device “suitable for business” will be declared suitable when it MEETS THE NEEDS OF A PARTICULAR BUSINESS. I will guarantee you for a FACT that when companies eye the iPhone for corporate use, which they ALREADY ARE, they will NOT be looking for the opinion of blinkered Apple bashers who are ignorant of technology and the application thereof.

That is all.

steve

Apple sux, they are just another Microsoft in cooler clothes, so people who perceive themselves as cool, just have to have one now, alpha, beta, secure, insecure, who cares we just wannabe…

Ryan Dagey

@Tom
I got the iphone on a business account, no idea where you got your information. You attempts at slandering the post is humorous considering you essentially agreed with her point that the iPhone is not ready for business use.

@Mac & @Ghost
What this post is saying is that iPhone is not ready for business development, so why is everyone here yelling for giving it more time? She even said many of the issues may be addressed soon, the whole point is NOW. Focus people.

@Ken & @Razorfish
There are many features that the iPhone is missing that a vast majority of business professionals would make use of, which again, to beat the dead horse into Hades, is the point of the article. Just because the few mentioned here don’t suit your own taste, there are plenty others. Take away your clipboard from Windows or Mac and see how well you function after a week–this being only one of the many features that should have been builtin from day one if Jobs was really going for the professional market. Just as you can say don’t buy it if it doesn’t suit my needs, don’t read the article if it doesn’t suit yours. Or we can all keep a fresh, sensible disposition and be honest about what is being discussed. The poster never said anything about the iPhone working properly to meet the needs outside the “corporate IT” market, so again, why argue if you agree?

I am using both the iPhone and my Treo 650 because both have significant advantages and disadvantages, and speaking from experience, when I want to play or get bored and need entertainment, I will turn to the iPhone. If I’m handling a business task over smartphone, I will turn the Treo, and there are countless reasons why each handles the job perfectly.

Bob

Yo, Ghost, what the heck are you talking about? She’s talking about Blackberries — they don’t run Windows Mobile.

Geez, typical Apple fanboy. Someone says “Apple sux” and the knee-jerk reaction is “Windows sux more”.

Boo Radley

This article is horrible…”When the battery kicks the bucket, so does the device…” Um…how long will the battery last? 2-3 years? Who keeps a cellphone or iPod that long? Honestly? I know I get a new cell every year. I’m brutal on cellphones, I expect a lot of them and they usually deliver, for a year.

I’ve never heard of a software program that could lock or wipe a device remotely…that’s just me, I’m sure they’re out there. But why do you care? You have to sync it to use it and what do you have on your phone? Top Secret N.A.S.A. information? Well, then you deserve to lose it.

This whole article just sounds like sour grapes to me.

eric

Relax people, it’s just a gadget. Really jake, “… biggest disappointment of 2007… piece of shit”? C’mon. Your year must’ve been great if that’s your biggest disappointment. Why did you buy an iPhone if you hate it so much? Caveat emptor, dude.

Personally, I’m enjoying the hell out of my iPhone. My old cell blomed.

Razorfish

Pathetic article and pathetic responses. Kendall Geiner seems to be the only rational poster.

If the iphone doesn’t have the features you need …don’t buy it. There are obviously a lot of people like myself that find the feature set fits in fine with their workstyle.

Ghost

I can recall when win95 came out and was a lemon, it crashed constantly and was pretty much useless poor support etc. Now the iPhone has just come out give it time to fit into its place and have developers write software for it. I have a windows smart phone what a chunk a junk it is. It has so many problems its incredible, its supports push email im told although i havn’t seen it from my phone company yet. Im guessing here but did the microsoft based phones have everything work for them on release?? I highly doubt it.

Kim Hendrikse

You can setup encrypted tunnels with the vpn. However, unfortunately Apple have chose to drop the data link to the phone company if no tcp connections are being made. udp packets won’t keep it up. And because all of the tcp connections are encapsulated in udp you know it is Apple software and not the phone company that is dropping the link (The phone company don’t see the tcp connections that keep the link up).

Unfortunately, this means I cannot setup mail collection via a vpn :-(

Kendall Gelner

1) Of course the iPhone supports encryption. You can use SSL with email just fine, and there are a number of other aspects of the device that make use of encryption (including a VPN client).

2) It seems trite to complain about something that will be addressed in just a matter of weeks (third party applications)

3) Can’t wipe the device remotely… why does this matter? Email is not held on the device, it’s fetched from the server. As long as you have a policy that user enable the PIN there’s very little risk since no data is held on the device itself.

4) When the battery kicks the bucket – you just take it to an Apple store, and get a replacement phone that you re-sync with your PC (or Mac) and you have everything you had before. Why on earth should the company be dealing with replacing people’s batteries when the vendor can do that directly better and faster?

Mike Bentley

They charge 300 bucks for that article? That is marvelous!

Look, I buy products that give me an edge. I did buy an iPhone, and I’m more than satisfied with how things are working out so far.

jake

BTW, my AT&T number was setup with a biz account and I setup my iphone without issue.

jake

It’s so funny to hear people who will defend the iphone, no matter how crappy it is. Sure, it’s cool to surf the web with, but that is the last thing most people need their phone for. Email and text much with your phone? The iphone is barely better than my 12 button nokia at typing emails. And I can type text/email on my old nokia without looking, something you can never do with an iphone. This product has so many drawbacks for business users, it’s really just a toy for kids. Steve would have done himself a favor by not releasing the iphone before it was even close to ready. If you want a phone that looks cool and has a crappy mp3 player, buy an iphone. If you want a phone that can do email and calendaring, do not buy an iphone. This product is the biggest disappointment of 2007, I’m not sure why so many people think it’s so great. It requires two hands to use, no battery life, terrible text messaging (no multimedia messaging, that’s right, you can’t text pictures to people), proprietary headphone jack. The thing is a piece of shit. First and last Apple product I will ever buy.

Tom

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!”

Paul

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.

Robert

*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.

listen_to_dian

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!

jk

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.

Eric

Pitch (via the Microsoft ad dept):

iPhone Platinum Enterprise Plus with Outlook 2008 for Business

Dave Lyon

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.

linkerjpatrick

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.

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