Blog Post

Is Apple Succeeding in Pushing the iPhone Into the Enterprise?

iphoneApple (s aapl), at the iPhone SDK launch last May, began a big push towards getting the iPhone into the enterprise — the traditional stronghold of the BlackBerry (s rimm). It rolled out enterprise-targeted features like push email/contacts/calendar, a global address list, VPN support and remote wipe. Now, more than a year later, how are big companies taking to the iPhone?

Apple COO Tim Cook gave some valuable statistics in the analyst Q&A during the company’s quarterly conference call yesterday:

[W]e are seeing growing interest with the release of the 3GS and iPhone OS 3.0, due in part to the new hardware encryption and the improved security policies. The phone is particularly doing well with small business and with large organizations that allow people to purchase the phones for individual use, and this is both in corporate and government settings. Specifically, to give you some numbers, almost 20% of the Fortune 100 have purchased at least 10,000 units or more and there’s now multiple corporations and government agencies who have purchased in excess of 25,000 each.

Though both Apple and Research In Motion are making huge profits on their respective devices, the BlackBerry has long been the device of choice for the business customer — everyone from Google (s goog) CEO (and Apple board member) Eric Schmidt to President Obama carries one. So Apple has a large hill to climb before it makes a serious dent in RIM’s bread and butter. Plus, the BlackBerry is available on just about every network in the world. In the U.S., at least, the iPhone is only available on AT&T, which, as we all know, many users don’t always prefer.

Some, including myself, credit the iPod with the resurgence of the Mac brand in the consumer sector, especially with the college crowd. Could the iPhone have the same effect on the enterprise?

27 Responses to “Is Apple Succeeding in Pushing the iPhone Into the Enterprise?”

  1. Johnny

    The iPhone is simiply the best phone ever made and Corporate IT will have to deal with it sooner or later. Resistance is futile. Rule number one in business: The Customer is Always right !

  2. There has been public data showing that Oracle has at least 4000 employees with iPhones (http://www.cio.com/article/489214/IPhone_Into_the_Enterprise)
    I can tell you that 99 dollar iPhone has a bigger impact than the 3GS. Reason is simple, for normal users the 99 dollars is not that huge a difference from a % standpoint (month data plan over 2 years etc). However for qualified corporate employees thats a 50% reduction in price, since the device price is all you pay.
    Everytime I go into a meeting I see 60-70% of the people having an iPhone.

  3. July 14, 2009: Seven Deadly iPhone Sins: What Every Enterprise Should Know

    With buzzwords like, “hardware encryption” and “remote wipe”, many enterprises have been misled into believing that the iPhone 3G[s] is secure enough to store confidential correspondence or other information. Apple is no doubt pushing the enterprise market, but is the iPhone truly secure enough?

    While this subject truly warrants a complete white paper, take the following points into consideration. The following apply not only to the iPhone 3G[s], but also to earlier generation devices. Here are the top seven things every enterprise should know about the iPhone:

    1. The 3G[s] passcode and encrypted backup password can easily be bypassed in about 30 seconds. This allows an identity thief who gains physical access to the device (for only a short time) to not only access the 3G[s], but to sync an unencrypted copy of its data through iTunes, creating a copy of the owner’s contacts, correspondence, photos, and other valuable data. If it can be synced with iTunes, it can be stolen in a very short period of time.

    2. The 3G[s] promised hardware encryption, but this hardware encryption does not protect the information on the iPhone from an information thief. The operating system needs to automatically decrypt the iPhone’s disk in order to boot, allowing anyone with the right know-how to easily acquire all of the data – including deleted data – on the device, bypassing any encryption. In fact, the only useful benefit for hardware encryption thus far has been the ability to quickly format the device, discussed next.

    3. Remote wipe and “LocateMe” features can easily be disabled by simply removing the SIM card. Any semi-intelligent thief looking to steal information from your corporate handsets can easily shut these features down within seconds, armed with only a paper clip.

    4. If your device is stolen, not only is the iPhone’s live information exposed, but also all of the deleted information on the device. Because the iPhone has such a large storage capacity, it can take six months or more to cycle through deleted data. The hardware itself is designed to minimize writing to the same place on disk, leaving a wealth of deleted data for an information thief.

    5. The iPhone OS has a built-in keyboard “logger” which logs nearly everything you type into the device’s keyboard to auto-learn the owner’s typing habits. As a result, endless logs of data are being created containing information typed in by the user. Even fields with auto-correction turned off have been seen to have some of the data entered in them stored in this cache.

    6. Every time your employee pushes the home button, the iPhone snaps a screenshot of the last thing they were doing. This is done for most built-in applications such as Mail and Safari, and has been observed for many third party applications as well. A large collection of screenshots of “the last thing” your employee was looking at are being stored on the device, exposing screenshots of potentially confidential information to anyone with the right know-how.

    7. There is a wealth of information stored on the device that most users don’t even realize is there. Information about your last GPS positions, which wireless networks you’ve joined and where, your search unread voicemail, and much more. Anything that goes through the iPhone is indefinitely stored on the iPhone.

    Consider the risk to your enterprise should the confidential information on corporate iPhones be stolen. The iPhone is about the size of a small laptop disk drive, and is about as easy to copy information from should a thief steal or “borrow” it without your knowledge.

      • The most important points #1 and #2 do not apply to either BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices with encryption turned on.

        That is what is required to keep company information and potential client data safe from prying eyes.

        When Apple can do that properly, I bet they will gain more ground in companies.

    • dicklacara

      The removal of the SIM card on an iPhone does not necessarily disable “LocateMe”, “Find My iPhone” or “Remote Wipe”.

      Recently I loaded up a [SIM-less, GPS-less] 1-gen iPhone with music, games and movies. My granddaughter took this with her on a 12-day trip to Canada. Whenever they were in range of a WiFi hotspot (motel, restaurant, pit stop, etc.), I see her location (within a 2-block radius) and send her “Find My iPhone” alerts and messages. While I did not test it, I assume I could have initiated a remote wipe…

      …the latter phrase forms the strangest mental image :)

    • dicklacara

      Just for grins, google “blackberry security”.

      You will find that RIM has their share of hacks and exposure. Many of these are dated.

      However, 1 exposure was detected as recently as June 6, 2009. To give due credit, the flaw was detected by RIM, a warning was published, and a patch was issued. Apple does not always give similar attention to security flaws.

  4. I just traded in my two year old Blackberry 8700 and personal iPhone 2G for a work provided iPhone 3GS. My wife traded her BB for a 3GS today, and she already wishes she had done it ages ago, both of our employers support the iPhone, and in my case I think the number of iPhones at work is similar to the number of BBs. If I was RIM I would be very very worried….

  5. iPhone will make it in the same way blackberries did… long before the folks who really could use one got it… the execs who wanted to flaunt it got theirs…. same for iPhone (especially 3GS). suits will get it in through the door.

  6. There’s much more to be had for Apple in small business, prosumer and consumer space than in the enterprise market.

    In the small business, prosumer and consumer markets valued added differentiation is awarded with purchases. In the enterprise market, the herd mentality still prevails and innovation takes second place to conformance to standards, purchasing agreement and the list goes on and on.

    Why chase the old news ( yes, even Obama is old news) when you can make tomorrow’s news?

  7. iphonerulez

    http://trustdigital.com/iphoneOS3.php
    This company says iPhones running 3.0 software can be managed every bit as easy as the latest BlackBerrys that use BES. Please look into this and see if they are distorting facts about the capability. Central control, pushed profiles and policies, managed apps, and logged reports that the remote iPhones have been updated. From my reading it sure does seem like the iPhone is ready to go into full enterprise use.

    So far the only drawback with the iPhone in businesses now would be having only a single carrier network in the U.S.

  8. what does jailbreaking a phone have anything to do with its legitimacy in enterprise?? Any phone can be hacked for a variety of use…..with remote wipe, activesync the iPhone took a big step toward being a legit enterprise solution. All that is required for a company to get remote wipe, calendar,contact syncin on the iPhone is an exchange box running activesync. For the bllackberry I have to spend money on BES which will scale based on size of the BB user base…

  9. No IT administrator worth his salt in a serious enterprise would consider rolling out iPhones. How often do you hear stories of jailbroken Blackberries?

    • vishnu

      @Peter
      When was the last time you were on Craigslist? Blackberry’s have been jailbroken since 2003, my friend. By the hundereds of thousands. Go over to Asia, and you will see continuing evidence from where Craiglist will leave you.

      • Yuvamani

        I think you mean unlocked .

        A quick google search shows unlocked blackberry and not jail broken or cracked berries. Please post links to cracked blackberries if you have them.

        RIM will *unlock* a blackberry for you if you ask them nicely. This only permits you to use the berry on any carrier.

        To do the same on the iPhone you have to use some security vulnerabities (After all thats the basis of ultrasn0w). This is much required (for example when you are roaming) and since Apple will not unlock it for you people (including me ) do it by installing the cracks and the hacks.

        Now I am running a jailbroken phone which *theoretically* allows any app to run as root and go wild. Erica from tuaw realized as much (http://www.tuaw.com/2008/02/11/thoughts-on-iphone-security/) .. Now add this app having access to your corp net and you will realize why iPhone are banned in some enterprises from VPNing.

        Do I agree with the policy – no
        Do I think blackberries cannot be similarly jailbroken – Yes, But there is not that much incentive to do so … As I said before, berries can be unlcoked and the apps on a berry is not as restricted as an appstore app (Apple puts apps in silos with no common filesystem access etc)
        Is a “locked” iPhone as “secure” as a blackberry – I think so..

        Enterprises can ask their employees to only run “locked” official iPhone builds and stay safe if they think that this is an issue. But I can see why some paranoid IT admins will block the iPhone