iPhone

CIOs gathered in New York say iPhone 'is not a business tool'

One of Apple's most important developments for the iPhone in its 2.0 software unveiled last year was its business-friendly features. However, according to a group of CIOs gathered in New York this week for an SAP event, the iPhone simply doesn't cut it for the enterprise. Read why, and then take our poll.

One of Apple's most important developments for the iPhone in its 2.0 software unveiled last year was its business-friendly features: Microsoft Exchange support, security enhancements, remote-kill, etc. However, according to a group of CIOs gathered in New York this week for an SAP event, the iPhone simply doesn't cut it for the enterprise, as reported by ZDNet (TechRepublic's sister site).

These CIOs all but scoffed at the iPhone when the topic of its place in business came up during a panel discussion with SAP customers.

  • Jennifer Allerton, CIO of Roche: "We have email on iPhone, but it has a soft keypad and we are an email intensive culture. We can't get good enough on it. iPhone is not a business tool, but a nice to have. The backbone is the BlackBerry."
  • Colgate Palmolive global IT head Ed Toben agreed. He said, "We're the same way with the iPhone."
  • SAP co-CEO Leo Apotheker piled on. He explained that SAP's CRM application is available on the BlackBerry and iPhone, but demand on the BlackBerry is much stronger than for the iPhone. Apotheker also added, "I'm totally unable to complete a sentence on the iPhone. Perhaps I'm clumsy."
  • Jeannette Horan, IBM's vice president of enterprise business transformation,  was the most diplomatic. She simply noted, "We have one of everything."

So the biggest thing holding back the iPhone in the enterprise appears to be its lack of a hardware keyboard, at least according to these IT leaders. Interestingly enough, when iPhone 2.0 launched in mid-2008 I wrote The five reasons I wouldn't use an iPhone are down to one, the one reason being the touch-screen keyboard.

What do you think about the iPhone as an enterprise device? Take the poll below and join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

47 comments
The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

They can't use a soft keyboard and so the device is a total failue. I and many others use a soft ketboard on my HTC every day and it's fine. I think it is them that have the issues here. Nothing wroing with a soft keyboard. Hey I just talk my messages direct to the device using google voice to text...

santeewelding
santeewelding

Then, you move on. God bless your soul. I obviously don't say this to you, you having moved on. My entreaty -- like to Oz, and to a friend whose daughter is involved in this, both trying to justify your mode of living as justifiable -- goes to the rest of us, who God bless you, and, fluck you.

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buddygregi

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jeffjones11
jeffjones11

Yes they are correct, the Ifone is just a media player, but not a big player in the field of media as it lacks some basics like a good camera, no video film maker and even worse it does not have a detailed zoom-in ability for viewing still images like its media master the Samsung OMNIA. But it does look sexy..

jypeterson
jypeterson

I have been much more productive with my iPhone than my previous Blackberry. 1) I type the same speed with both, non-hardware keyboard a non issue (OVERBLOWN!!! however, I am 32) 2) App Store -- Blackberry cannot compete here. I can carry all of my business critical apps + have access to additional software (ie: business calculator, remote desktop control, telnet software for ad-hoc data reports on the fly, medical apps not available on other mobile devices, + I have developed several applications for myself and coworkers, et cetera) 3) Most usable mobile internet available. I don't need flash on the go. I'm not watching flash movies. I have access to all of the sites I need without worry or chopped-up information. 4) Blackberry Storm is not in the same class as the iPhone. The clickable screen made me type far slower than I could ever imagine. 5) During travel, I don't have to carry my iPod, phone, calculator, et cetera. I just carry one device, my iPhone. If you really email that much, you should take a note from some of the best IT leaders -- pick up the phone and call. Many times communication is much easier and the meaning concise when you speak to each other instead of emailing.

abisset
abisset

I would expect someone at the CIO level to come up with an excuse better than "I can't type on it." These are just old executives who are resistant to change. I can type far more efficiently on my iPhone than I've ever been able to on a Q, Blackberry, or Palm. I thought the impetus for choosing IT as a career path was due in part to it's dynamism. Worthless criticism imo.

rimbaud
rimbaud

Remember what Business said about the GUI (Macintosh)... it's a toy (and then Microsoft came up with Windows, and we've been stuck with it ever since)!

intrader
intrader

iPhone is really good at determing what song I am listening to!. Have it convert speech to text and make it simple to correct. intrader@aol.com

iamSting
iamSting

C'mon... "I cant use the keyboard"... THAT is your only reportable complaint about the iPhone? Are you serious? "more people download SAP on Blackberry" ... that sounds about as insightful as the executives at GM in the 70's looking into their parking lot and concluding that everyone wants big gas guzzlers. Technology moves fast... clearly too fast for this panel. Anyone review the growth figures on the iPhone over Blackberry? Oh.. yes... those are only consumer numbers... Clearly consumers cannot also business users. Silly me.

paul.doherty
paul.doherty

I agree - I simply hate my iPhone for business use. You can't copy/paste anything, you can't search through your past items to find anything and it takes forever to add new appointments to the calendar. Give me back my Palm Treo (or perhaps the new Palm Pre)!

shaungo
shaungo

I work for a company that deals with SME convergence and breakfix. We are installing maybe 6 iPhones to 1 Blackberry at the moment. I have an iphone. They have so many other good uses in the business environment. The engineers use them to find the many different sites they travel to with the map function it has. You don't need a BES. Users find them easier. And they are brand new. We don't seem to be finding near so many problems with iPhones compared to other brand new devices.

alid_perez
alid_perez

In business features, performance, compatibility and flexibility the HTC_FUZE beats the iPhone and any Blackberry any time any place.

craigbe
craigbe

Can you do remote desktop with a blackberry? How about access a VPN and access your servers using VNC or RDC? I can access anything from anywhere on my iphone. Lets see you do that on a blackberry.

techrep
techrep

CIOs are usually behind the curve. They learnt their technology a before they're senior enough to make the big decisions. The iphone is the only mass-market smartphone with a decent browser - the Blackberry browsers are woeful. I'd rather have pretty good email and an excellent browser than excellent email and a woeful browser...

bigjoesweeney
bigjoesweeney

I think some of the older techies and CIOs who already use a blackberry are to accustomed to the tactial sytle key board. They like what they know. Look at a computer board. It is not changed since the typewriter era. The keys were designed around avoiding machine head jams. Now we have had available research showing that a dvorak simplified keyboard is better to reduce injury. I don't see any major companies introducing that. It might cost money in down time to train people and productivity initially. I think they need to get out of the 1990s phone technology habit and just deal with a touch keyboard. Wait until we have a touch keyboard built into a desk (aka tron) LOL

drew
drew

Frankly, I am a CITO, and our policy is one of three phones, Blackberry, WiMo, or iPhone. Our end users pick the Iphone 3-1. I personally 'upgraded' from a Blackberry, and I found that after the initial learning curve associated with the touch screen, I can now type faster than I was able to on a Blackberry after three years of use.

yvesrn
yvesrn

Apple has been focused on solidifying it's consumer market the past 18 months. Now, as more of these consumers walk into their offices with iPhone's wanting to use it for business, IT is being confronted with supporting a new device. They don't like supporting new devices. It increases support costs and complexity. Over time, as more tools and more enterprise applications available, it will become a necessity. Apple also needs to listen and over time, they will address iPhone's enterprise shortcomings. For one, I believe the horizontal keyboard in all applications and the addition of cut and paste would mitigate a good percentage of the problems people are having with the keyboard. While iPhone may not supplant Blackberry's, it will become a viable alternative. http://iphonecto.com http://twitter.com/iphonecto

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

When looking for a new personal smartphone (to replace a BlackJack) I looked at the iPhone. I liked most of what I saw. However, the touchscreen keyboard was a real deal breaker. Every time I gave it a test (must have spent over 3 hours in total evaluating it--I really wanted to love it), the mistakes in typing were just too much. I ended up going for the Tilt (not perfect, but has been a pretty good device for me thus far). At my employer, we were also looking at the iPhone to replace our decrepit BlackBerrys (monochrome models--could hear the pterodactyls chiseling away whenever a new message arrived). Again, the touch screen typing was the biggest drawback, so we ended up getting Curves. The problem that I see is that if it had a physical keyboard, it would have to increase in size; which would detract from one of the major draws. Perhaps they should come out with 2 separate product lines? iPhone Personal (current model in terms of function and apps) and iPhone Professional (slightly wider, but with separate slideout keyboard, enhanced security for the enterprise, etc).

jesse.turner
jesse.turner

I would have to disagree, It does take some time getting used to the keys but once you get the hang of it you can fly on that touch screen keyboard... One of the things I have encountered being a IT Systems Admin is that most of my users are older Fat guys who have stubby fingers and they find it easier to use the touch screen then a blackberry keyboard because those keys on the blackberry are to small and they hit 2 maybe 3 keys when they are just trying to hit 1..

MH101
MH101

You must have seen the features. If u need a phone that looks sexy than ur a fool

MH101
MH101

It took about a week to figure out the keyboard. Now it's very simple to type (I'm typing on it now without skipping a beat). This panel must be on something. For them not to be able to type on this simple keyboard makes me laugh. We have an atty that uses a storm and they truly failed at their approach to touchscreen technology. I'd say the battery life is the only flaw for the iPhone. The iTunes should have a corporate version with Corp accnt to centralize and lock istore activity, etc for users who do not care to use it or for IT admins who would like to keep from having to install iTunes for each user. It's really a matter of preference and policy for your business or enterprise and if the transfer And training is worth the work involved.

MH101
MH101

it is an app you can speak into the mic on your iPhone and it will convert it into an email. Then send away! The attys love it! It is pretty accurate. There is also a builtin dictafone you can email wav files at ease. The 3.0 software let's you voice dial.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

If we don't like touch screens technology moves too fast for us? I'm not alone in demanding a tactile keyboard and enterprise management tools (such as blackberry server or using windows server management on windows mobile phones)...the latter being the more important part. Some people have different needs, that doesn't make them less insightful or "behind the times."

techd_admin
techd_admin

Interesting that all the raves about the Blackberry & Co., all the sage advice about physical micro-chicklet keyboards, and there's no mention of the latest release from Blackberry: a non-iPhone - iPhone. I've a few "older fat guys" who can't manage eraser-head sized keys either, nor master blind typing, and the Storm is the traded-for device. Not flawless, not even close, but it's the wave of the future. I'm not on that wave, as I'm not convinced that a crackberry and the 'need' to be 24/7 exists, or can be fulfilled completely from a palm device. I'll wait for the VR HUD in my tri-focals, and voice command ala HAL before I trade-in the mini laptop with full software suite and the separate cell phone.

dwilga
dwilga

If Apple would just add-on haptic type feedback for their touchscreen, I think much of the problem with the "keyboard" could be resolved. LG has this feature in their Vu and I can't imagine why Apple hasn't considered it for the iPhone.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Am I the only one who types without look at his phone? Since blackberries have handy indentations on certain keys I can use that for reference. I find that especially handy on the road (I know, you shouldn't do it there anyway). But it's also handy in a dark room or crowded area NOT to be forced to actually look at your phone. I can type the message, glance at it to make sure i didn't spell something wrong and then hit send. From casually using my friend's iPhone for a day it just seemed like a two handed phone. One hand to hold it, one to type and all of this while you stare at the damn thing. If I wanted to stop and do all that I'd just call the person. It seemed like a really cool and aesthetically pleasing device, a great mp3 player (although i will forever have a hatred of itunes unless they totally change it) but a disastrously inconvenient smart phone. And the obvious lack of any type of enterprise integration is a serious drawback of course.

cluegiven
cluegiven

no not being an iphone would be the first step in the right direction now look at HTC

zclayton2
zclayton2

That might solve the "perhaps I'm clumsey" comment, but I don't think that was the underlying issue.

panzrwagn
panzrwagn

Add those features to the 'iPhoneE' (for Enterprise) and let it be a little thicker. Then you have a business worthy device. Just having a great SDK and app distribution mechaism isn't enough. In the meantime, could we at least have predictive text input that's a little bit credible for business??

maryclaire.salander
maryclaire.salander

I use my iPhone for everything and love the integration of contacts, email, to do list, music, photos - I can't say enough about all that. I HATE the keyboard. I am a relatively competent touch typist (does anybody use that term anymore?) and I suck at typing on the iPhone. Whenever possible, I avoid it. I've used BBs in previous jobs and found the keyboard much easier to use. If the iPhone had a hardware keyboard, I would never put it down. :-)

matt.jaros
matt.jaros

I think the iPhone would definitely be more viable opponent to the blackberry if it used a hardware keyboard. I believe more apps need to be developed for a windows environment also. Remember, most of the world still use Microsoft products to run their business.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

I have been using a Blackberry (Curve, now Bold) for about a year now. They are solid, reliable business devices that allow you to process email on the go, with a little light browsing mixed in. For my use the media capability on the Bold is more than adequate for mp3 - I don't normally try to watch videos on my phone. The last two weeks I have been using an iPhone. The device definitely has the "wow" factor. Super browser (not 100%, but very very close), email with/Exchange works great, and for me the ability to display graphics in my email is refreshing. I took have great concerns with the soft keys. Typing accurately is not an option, I rely heavily on the error correction, which works well. Unfortunately it cannot help when entering username/password/URLs. The biggest beef I have with the iPhone is the battery life. Even with WiFi turned off at the end of the day the battery is pretty much drained. Bear in mind I am not a heavy user either, very little voice - mostly managing email. In the evening I have been browsing the App store, but it seems that any moderate usage that involves 3G sucks the battery very quickly. Now if this were any other phone I would just have a spare battery laying around and swap it out. But noo - Apple won't do user replaceable batteries. I am stuck with either charging it somewhere, or getting expensive and bulky external battery packs. Plus what will happen when I am 16 months into my contract and the battery won't hold a charge anymore? While I feel the user experience on the iPhone is better, I won't recommend it for my company until it has a user replaceable battery. I am just surprised that I have not seen much about this topic elsewhere.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

It's early yet, maybe it'll sway. 75% of the people saying it isn't enterprise worthy is high. Two things need to happen before I would consider it for someone who is email intensive and depends on their phone 24/7 on my network. 1) A real keyboard. The touch screen on the iphone works great if you're looking at it. Before I weaned myself off of smart phones, I had no problems typing in the dark without even seeing the keyboard on my blackberry. Found my reference key and typed away. Maybe some indentations on the iphone screen where the keys would be in landscape mode? I also hate looking at my phone to dial, i like to glance at the most. One handed operation via a side scroll is a must, let alone being able to find number keys. I REFUSE to use a bluetooth headset. I'm old school and I still think it looks tacky...exceptions being driving and when you have 2 or more small children and you're alone. 2)This part requires hell freezing over. Get in line with Blackberry and make a licensing agreement with Microsoft. Give me an exchange app or separate server to add like blackberry does. I want to be able to force my security policies and many settings out to my mobile clients. Blackberry lets me do it and windows mobile lets me do it. Anyone who wants to be a serious business phone leader needs to play WELL with exchange and microsoft network security policies. Not everyone is a microsoft shop, but the overwhelming majority of businesses are. Simply adding the ability to connect to an exchange account like the iphone does is a nice start, but nowhere near the functionality I want and have become accustomed to. Just my 2 cents...

iamSting
iamSting

Your preference of input is not in question or an indication that you are behind the times. Quite simply, it is not a reason I would even remotely entertain for dismissing a technology as not fit for the enterprise. Lack of security... Integration with numerous "distracting" applications... Physical integrity... Inferior and often very slow implementation of email... THOSE are reasons to dismiss the iPhone from use in business. But a tactile keyboard? C'mon people, let's take our jobs a little more seriously. Has anyone on this panel actually USED an iPhone for more than 5 minutes? Maybe it was just a poorly written article and the analysis of the panel was deeper than that which was reported, in which case, I retract my tirade.

spasse
spasse

I have been using a Blackberry since it was a Blueberry. (Just ask my wife ;)) I have had an IPod touch since it 1st came out so I have been getting used to the virtual keyboard since its release. I will admit that there is some ?getting used to this keyboard but using in its horizontal presentation help a lot. Heuristic feedback is something that Apple is not only planning on using, but they are also patenting related user interface issues. They were recently granted patent # 7,479,949 ?Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics? Virtual interface presentation is only going to get better and better. I will be handing in my Blackberry shortly in favor of an iPod 3G over the next few days. IMO, people that dismiss the iPod as a business tool are whistling in the dark or perhaps succumbing to the RIM equivalent of being a Windows fan boy.

briand
briand

our employees are told to not worry about spelling grammar typos etc. i could care less if they leave commas or periods out. you don't even need to start each sentence with a capital letter The purpose of E-mail is to get a message across - at least most of the time. If you spell-check your E-mail ur missing the big picture. we know ur smart already.

rhawkey
rhawkey

I had a blackberry and moved to the iPhone thinking I would hate the typing without a proper keyboard. Now I love the iPhone - it correctly guesses and fixes up my spelling mistakes (from big fingers) and I can type an email just as quick on the iPhone as on the Blackberry.

bill.henley
bill.henley

Foldable, like the ones Palm Pilot and Sony Clie used to have.

compudog
compudog

agreed. i've been stunned by the silence from iphone owners and would-be owners. there's a reason that no other phone manufacturer on earth denies its owner access to the battery, but apple has gotten away more or less completelyl with this most cynical practice. i'm glad that business is reacting to it as consumers should have. as far as the keyboard goes, apple's is amazing but still not nearly as fast or efficient as a real one, and even most iphone owners will admit that.

markinct
markinct

I agree. The iPhone is a great device in most every aspect, save the battery. Locking down the battery is just plain wrong. Why does Apple make this mistake over and over? I have been using a G1 since late November. Not as pretty as the iPhone, but I can replace the battery if need be. It also has a very good 5 row keyboard. As much as I like the phone and Android, I wouldn't recommend it for corporate use until it can be secured/locked down like a BB.

cluegiven
cluegiven

not being an iphone would be the first step in the right direction now look at HTC

gypkap
gypkap

I like my 4G iPod, but the battery is getting older. It works fine connected to a cigarette lighter socket in my car, but not so good as a standalone player. Replacing the battery is expensive, around $100 with parts and labor the last time I looked.