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Don’t Expect Mass Enterprise iPhone Adoption in 2009

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The iPhone has a lot of potential for enterprise use. It’s a powerful device, and it supports Exchange synchronization, and more and more, businesses are integrating Apple computers into their current IT loadout. Still, BlackBerry dominates the business market. Especially in more traditional corporate climates, the impetus required for a shift to Apple’s device isn’t there. At an organization I recently left, they were just undertaking BlackBerry adoption, and cautiously at that. Suggesting an iPhone solution would’ve been greeted by blank stares. Some involved in approving purchasing decisions wouldn’t even have known what one was. Yes, it is possible to be that insulated.

I still used my iPhone for work purposes, but not in a way that was fully integrated or supported by our in-house IT. It’s the type of thing that Forrester Research’s Michele Pelino sees as becoming more prevalent as we move in to 2009. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) like the one I mention, according to Pelino, will see more of the iPhone, since their IT infrastructure is less strict, and open to a hodge podge of solutions supplemented by employees’ own equipment. Because of this, she sees iPhone adoption climbing to as much as 10 percent among SMBs.

SMBs are one thing, but what about large enterprise? Will the iPhone make inroads into this traditional bastion of BlackBerry users? Can they, when hardware is generally company-purchased, company-issued, and strictly mandated? According to Pelino, the Storm will reap the benefit of the large enterprise’s resistance to change. End users are clamoring for a touchscreen phone, and now they can provide one, without going outside of, or reexamining corporate mobile tech policies. The Storm, according to many accounts, doesn’t live up to the standards of the iPhone, but from a business standpoint, it’s a much more fiscally responsible solution, at least in the short term.

Bottom line? Don’t expect massive iPhone uptake from large corporations in 2009. Still, that doesn’t mean it’ll stay locked out forever. The upward trending SMB adoption bodes well for the iPhone down the line, in fact. Traditionally, smaller businesses anticipate the crest of tech trends, since they have the flexibility to do so. Enterprise-wide adoption is far easier on a smaller scale, so small companies are often incubators of big ideas that later sweep the business community. Especially when you consider that small businesses are career incubators as well. People often begin their professional lives at SMBs, and move on later to influential roles in larger companies. They bring with them their habits, working styles, and IT preferences, which can lead to innovation.

The groundwork is being laid, but as Pelino suggests, we probably won’t see major enterprise iPhone adoption in the coming year. Do expect, however, to see more offerings like KBOX from KACE, an iPhone management solution for those who are implementing enterprise-wide iPhone implmentation that allow companies to deploy, manage, and track handsets and users. KACE recognizes the growing appeal of the iPhone to business users, and are getting an early start at providing a framework for when big business catches up. Don’t expect any huge moves in corporate IT departments until after we’ve successfully emerged on the other side of the current economic situation, but if the iPhone continues to dominate the consumer market, look forward to big shifts when the dollars are there to spend.

8 Responses to “Don’t Expect Mass Enterprise iPhone Adoption in 2009”

  1. I need to stress this point again because people who don’t have a blackberry don’t seem to grab it. (I have both a bb and an iphone)

    1: iPhone does not have the not have the notification options that a blackberry has. At a glance, just by looking at the light, on a bb you can know if you have any new unread emails since the last time you checked. That could be of less importance but surely very useful. In an iphone i have to exit sleep mode, go in to the mailbox check if there’s new mail (i can’t remember the number on top of the icon every time), if i want to read after the 25th mail i have to load them from the server. If I want to change mailbox i have to go back-back-forward-forward…

    2: Blackberry is fast. And I don’t mean just typing (the bold is really a fast machine to type in) but also very fast in reading emails, jumping into menus, apps and functions.

    3: BB can separate or unify mailboxes, sms, mms, im messaging. And all of these can be configured separately with different notification types.

    4: BB’s push funionality is real and unbeaten till now. It’s free for non enterprise and works with gmail, yahoo mail, hotmail ecc

    5: BB’s IM messaging works. Really works seamlessly in the background, with push notification and without draining battery whatsoever.

    6: Blackberry can swap batteries.

    Having said that, iphone is really great for music, for downloading many useful apps, also games. But from a business perspective and for pure communication between people, business or private, blackberry is really all that one needs and will want.

    It’s not a matter of IT managers that don’t know what an iphone is or that they are more traditional or conservative. Really.


  2. “Don’t expect massive iPhone uptake from large corporations in 2009.”

    Massive iPhone uptake has already been going on in large corporations since the 3G iPhone came out.

    One 50,000+ company that I will not name has a process in place that from an internal page were employees can order an iPhone and corporate calling plan directly from the ATT corporate portal. IT is not involved in this process nor knows how many iPhones are in use. Also many of the employees would be listed as Blackberry users even though most went back to a regular phone and put the Blackberry in a drawer because it was a pain to use.

    Corporate IT sources are not the best sources of information about iPhone users in their company. Especially when many non-technical employees are attracted to the iPhone and never would have considered a Blackberry.

  3. My employer was recently buying 7 servers. When the RFQ was put together, I was told it would be flat out rejected if Apple was listed on it. So, we’ve got 7 new Dell servers. Bummer.

    Apple is paying the price for neglecting the enterprise for so long. I don’t know if they really want to be in the enterprise market or not. If they do, they aren’t doing a very good job of making that clear.