Clients ask all the time what I think of their smartphones. Committed by multi-year contracts that ultimately run several thousand dollars and outlast some marriages, they want to hear they chose wisely. Unless they chose an iPhone, I don't have much to say.
That's the truth. To tell you anything else would be a disservice to them, you and this space. What's important is why I prefer the iPhone, and the reasons have nothing to do with drinking Apple's Kool-Aid, being "arty" or wanting to look "cool." I'm too busy for that stuff.
My office supports several hundred commercial clients. We've deployed, configured and troubleshot BlackBerries, Droids, Treos, iPhones and others. Having had to manage email, synchronize calendars, support contacts, configure music and photos, enable video transfer and fix stubborn Smartphone applications more times than I can count, we've learned a few things along the way.
#1. Easier email configuration
J. D. Power ranked the iPhone number one according to the results of a business survey. Ease of operation was a major contributing factor. That's no surprise to me. My engineers and I can configure an iPhone to synchronize email, contacts and calendar information with a properly configured Exchange server inside of 30 seconds. 30 seconds, no exaggeration. I've seen just email configuration alone consume three and four hours when working with BlackBerries, often due to the complexities of having to convince cell providers to reset BlackBerry user accounts on proprietary, closed systems.
#2. Tight, customizable security
Thanks to the News of the World voice-mail hacking scandal, smartphone security scrutiny is at an all-time high. Thankfully, iPhones are more secure than many give them credit for.
Leveraging good business practices (enforce encrypted backups, restrict store access, require passcode use, enable 256-bit AES encryption for all handset data and power Cisco- or SSL-powered VPN connections, etc.) helps lock down the devices. iPhones also support remote data wiping, including directly by users within Outlook Web Access when running newer Exchange platforms.
Business applications benefit, too, from heightened security. Because iOS apps run within protected memory spaces, a runaway or malicious program can't access another application's data.
#3. Best application support
Whenever a client needs a third-party app (such as a project management tool, task management utility, e-reader, mapping program, notes synchronization app or similar app), there's almost always an iPhone-specific program available. Apple's smartphone easily leads the pack.
In fact, it's not even a race. In July Apple announced more than 15 billion apps had been downloaded by more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users. Certainly, iPhone users have many choices. More than 425,000 apps are available.
Best of all, Apple makes it easy for iPhone users to browse, search, download and update applications. It all comes back to ease of operation. Apple's become one of the most highly capitalized corporations ever, in part, due to the simplicity and reliability the iPhone provides.
Techies feel very strongly about their smartphones. You may well agree with the iPhone assessment, or you may strongly disagree. Post your comments below. But be sure to provide real-world examples, too. Don't just say iPhones are weak; state why they're weak (maybe your iPhone 4 drops voice calls in a tunnel where your old Motorola handset never failed). Or maybe you think the iPhone rocks, in which case actual examples will better assist other business users in understanding how it helps you (maybe you're able to run unique applications tailored to your vertical market, for example). Weigh in below.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.