iPhone

IT perspective: The pluses and minuses of iPhone 2.0

Apple has met enterprises halfway and it will be hard to not support the device in some way. Companies are unlikely to give it most favored device status, but they will quietly support it.
This is a guest post from Larry Dignan. You can read the original article on Larry's blog Between the Lines on TechRepublic's sister site ZDNet.

Apple launched a blitzkrieg of iPhone moves: You got a 3G iPhone, a cloud computing and storage service, and enterprise support. But there are also a few productivity killers in there that would make an IT exec step back.

What do you do?

To be sure, not every Apple advancement announced at the WWDC (all posts, keynote recap, Techmeme, video) will be an enterprise home run. But there's enough to make you seriously ponder iPhone support. And folks appear to be seriously pondering the iPhone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said 35 percent of the Fortune 500 has been in the iPhone 2.0 beta.

Here's a rough look at the iPhone plusses and minuses before you start a deep-dive on the actual numbers:

Positives:
  • The per unit price of the iPhone is falling. The 3G iPhone will run you $199 for an 8GB model and $299 for a 16GB version (statement, all iPhone posts). That's a big drop from $399 and puts the iPhone on par with other corporate favorites from Research in Motion. Now it's a game of volume discounts.
  • The iPhone has full Exchange support, secure VPN and hooks to Microsoft and Cisco. Apple has removed the enterprise support knock.
  • Built-in GPS. One of the big features on the iPhone is built-in GPS. Apple has made location services a bit part of the next-generation iPhone. With a little development, you may be able to keep better track of your roving sales folks.
  • Enterprise app distribution: Job outlined how companies can distribute applications for themselves. Here's how it works: Enterprises authorize iPhones, create apps and then distribute them on an intranet so they only work on company iPhones. Apps are synched via iTunes. Novel, but notable enough to spark interest.
  • Support for Office docs. The iPhone supports Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Neutral:

  • MobileMe. Apple has introduced a .Mac replacement called MobileMe, which is a cloud-based service that synchs various devices (statement). Apple called it "Exchange for the rest of us." The problem for enterprises: Companies have invested heavily in Exchange. MobileMe may be handy for individuals, but may not be a huge selling point for CIOs.
  • Web 2.0 synch of interfaces. The linchpin of MobileMe is synching in a Web 2.0 AJAX interface. You can connect Outlook, Web and Mac apps natively. Could be helpful, but there's a problem. Corporations are just figuring out how they do the enterprise 2.0 jig.

Negative:

  • Games galore. For every application that would make a CIO say 'that could be useful' there was a demo of a time-wasting game. Simply put, the iPhone could be a productivity boon or bust. Sure you can do a lot of stuff on your BlackBerry that's not work related, the iPhone resembles the Sony PSP when fired up with games. Would you allow your users to tote a Sony PSP for work? That said there are handy business apps lying around too. However, Jobs keynote was games heavy enough to put this in the negative category for those not-so-forward-thinking CIOs.

Bottom line:

Apple has met enterprises halfway and it will be hard to not support the device in some way. Companies are unlikely to give it most favored device status, but they will quietly support it.

28 comments
brockers
brockers

The iPhone may now cost $199 but there is now a required $30/month data plan from AT&T. On a two year contract that means the phone price has increased to $919. Just to complete that transaction, Apple gets a piece of that data plan from AT&T.

NaughtyMonkey
NaughtyMonkey

and what AT&T said, Apple isn't getting anything from AT&T. AT&T is probably paying $299/$399 and selling it to you for $199/$299 with a new 2 year contract. Yes you have to sign a new 2 year contract with a $30 data plan, same as their other 3G smart phones, but it is all going to AT&T. No more online purchasing, Apple and AT&T stores only with 2 year contract required. That does suck though. Considering there is no 3G where I live and EDGE works good enough for what I need, I will keep mine and just take the free software upgrade. The best feature they added,which should have been there from the start, was bulk e-mail selection and deletion. I am still trying to find out what is a software upgrade and what is hardware. They have extended battery life through software updates but I will lack the GPS (unless they had a receiver in there all along).

bowlingbrad
bowlingbrad

With all of this talk about the Enterprise ability of the new iPhone, how are we to control the apps/songs on the corporate iPhone? What if we don't want employees downloading songs/podcasts, etc?

terry.floyd
terry.floyd

The biggest negative I saw was the poor coverage for 3G service. Yes, 3G is widely available--in Europe and Asia. That's why Steve made such a big deal about the worldwide rollout of the new iPhone, and all the countries in which it will be available by next month. But look at a few maps of the USA and overlay the areas where 3G is available, and the iPhone 2.0 doesn't look nearly as attractive. See http://www.macsimumnews.com/index.php/archive/att_3g_coverage_area_in_the_us_map_photo/ to get an idea of what I'm talking about. As slow as the AT&T EDGE network may be, at least you can connect to it in far more places than you can with the 3G version. There are entire states in the U.S. that have NO 3G coverage at all. That's fine for most urban professionals, but I just hope you don't ever need to use the phone when you're travelling through Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, the Dakotas, Idaho or New Mexico.

GoodOh
GoodOh

So 3G phones are not too great where there is no 3G. Is that your point? Electric stoves don't cook well where there are no wires either. Neither is a criticism of the phone makers nor the stove makers. I fail to see how this is worse for Apple than any other phone makers and surely that's what we have to compare it with? Flag semaphore is still available everywhere but we don't compare phones against that for obvious reasons.

losler
losler

can't wait to get my hands on one, positives way out weight any negatives..it IS MY NEXT PHONE

itpro_z
itpro_z

Come on, Larry, the only negative that you could find was that you can play games on the new iPhone? How about discussing that you must use iTunes/QuickTime/Safari to synch the unit with a PC? Would any self respecting CIO even consider allowing those programs on their network? Add in the lack of Blue Tooth, a user replaceable battery, and the lock in to AT&T and you have negatives that far outweigh the positives.

rtk
rtk

is the iPhone's iTunes requirement. iTunes, Quicktime and Safari are banned software on many of the network's I've been involved with in the last several years.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

For iPhone 2.0 I don't remember any discussion about lock-in. I got the impression he wanted the iPhone to be sold by anyone. Second, the sync does NOT require iTunes (except maybe for music,) Quicktime or Safari, though all of those come included within the OS of the iPhone itself. It seems you totally choose to ignore the 'Cloud synch' that was discussed for so long during the keynote. In fact, to me the negatives were eliminated with this announcement. I will be buying two iPhones as soon as they come available.

itpro_z
itpro_z

I have yet to see any confirmation that iPhones will be available from any service other than AT&T, so I'll wait to see how that plays out. The article does state that iTunes is required for delivering the customized apps for the enterprise, and iTunes requires QT and pushes Safari. For your typical Mac user that is not an issue, but from my point of view it is a serious handicap. Perhaps some day Apple will show some commitment to security, but that day isn't here yet.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... While we're waiting, at least two companies have already dropped their hat in the ring for full-disk encryption on OS X. And just because iTunes pushes Safari doesn't mean you have to accept it. Again, Safari is NOT needed to synch an iPhone to a Windows PC.

non-sequitur
non-sequitur

First, it does have bluetooth. Second, care to elaborate on your dislike of QT and Safari? Besides, I don't see where those will be required on PC's for syncing. Exchange support is built in, which means...Exchange support is built in. You will want iTunes to access the Apps store which can be customized to each organization. What's the problem here? Plus since a good portion of Fortune 500 companies participated in the Beta, do they not have "self respecting CIO's"? You need to get over yourself. Anyone who has participated in the beta care to chime in?

it.support
it.support

Brad, please get a grip. I would hardly call the ability to use a bluetooth headset as 'having Bluetooth'. Where is Stereo Bluetooth so you can listen to your music a la iPod without wires? Where is tethering you can use the iPhone as a modem? And where in God's great name is Bluetooth file-transfer so you can transfer files to and from the iPhone (and keep it synced with another device like your laptop)??? Oh, that's right... no Bluetooth because keeping your calendars / contacts etc etc synced through anything other than their new $99/year service is impossible. No MMS - not even receiving them, no copy/paste (WTF?), and no video recording all combine to make this device a no-go zone for me. But you want to know the real deal breaker? No forward-facing camera for video calls. Even the cheapest 3G phone has these. And in the absence of this, I don't think you can call it a 3G phone at all.

GoodOh
GoodOh

"Oh, that's right... no Bluetooth because keeping your calendars / contacts etc etc synced through anything other than their new $99/year service is impossible." Or maybe the included USB cable? If you are in Bluetooth range then it's not the end of the world to plug in a cable (the same one for an iPod if one has one so spares are cheap and available). Not great that it's missing BUT there is NOT a requirement to buy another $US99 service. Exaggerating problems hides your good points.

Andrei Martin
Andrei Martin

Exactly. The first thing I was looking for at the features page was the second forward facing camera for video calls, and was heavily disappointed to learn it's not there. Same with the missing bluetooth. I'm still thinking of getting one next month though...

itpro_z
itpro_z

Is it possible to install iTunes without QT and Safari? Are you even aware of the security risks involved with both QT and Safari? Since iTunes is required for the customized enterprise apps, then that means that QT and Safari are also required. I find it interesting that someone involved in networking and security would have no problems with this. If Apple wants to be taken seriously in the enterprise, they will have to separate the iPhone from iTunes.

GoodOh
GoodOh

"My point of view is that if Apple wants to play in our world, they need to show some commitment to security and recognize our concerns." Replace "Apple" in that statement with the name of any major software company and it serves just as true. They have all released (and have for sale) software with security flaws that shouldn't be there. You are right about Apple but they all rely on you running protection on top of the stuff they sell to keep them safe so it applies to them all.

itpro_z
itpro_z

Safari is not technically required at this time, but is certainly pushed through updates. Yes, we can block it, and ideally end users should know enough to uncheck the option before installing the software or updates, but Safari is checked by default and I am not the only one perturbed by that. You point of view is that our network security should protect our PCs from Apple's poorly designed software. My point of view is that if Apple wants to play in our world, they need to show some commitment to security and recognize our concerns. This is a phone we are talking about, and it is not like there aren't very mature enterprise ready alternatives already out there without the numerous shortcomings of the iPhone.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

[i]Is it possible to install iTunes without QT and Safari?[/i] No and yes. iTunes requires Quicktime to operate. On the other hand, the PC does NOT require Safari to install iTunes; Firefox works perfectly well. I won't answer for IE because I refuse to use something designed to force you to use MS products. [i]Are you even aware of the security risks involved with both QT and Safari?[/i] Actually, yes I am. I also know that only Windows PCs are affected by these so-called security risks. However, since Safari isn't needed, it's hardly an issue. [i]Since iTunes is required for the customized enterprise apps, then that means that QT and Safari are also required.[/i] False. QT, yes; Safari, no. For those who are so interested in security, they would already be aware that Safari isn't needed in a Windows box, which eliminates the biggest so-called 'risk.' Even so, what risk there is in QT is minimized by proper maintenance of firewalls and anti-malware suites. After all, if they can't get [u]to[/u] Quicktime, they can't get [u]through[/u] Quicktime.

armstrongb
armstrongb

And they use QT and Safari. Over 1/2 of the network end users on this network have Apple devices. We are a medical research institue that creates educational products that are available on iTunes, so we allow iTunes, how else are we going to see or test our content? We are expected to support the iPhone by our CEO despite the problems with QT and Safari. That ship has already sailed, and it's not coming back. In a 100% Windows environment your points are well taken but not all environments match up to yours. It is not about what I want, it is how I serve the organization I work for in the best manner and they tell me they want more Apple, not less. I can say no, and find another job or I can do the best I can with what I got.

dodell
dodell

"Would you allow your users to tote a Sony PSP for work?" Would you forbid employees from carrying a Sony PSP on a business trip? Come on! If you're honest about the way people work this concern is ridiculous. Are you saying that if an employee away on a business trip spends 5 spare minutes doing something not work related it's a waste of time? We're most productive when we give our minds little breaks throughout the day.

DaveWThompson
DaveWThompson

agreed, a little fun time at lunch or on a break can really increase productivity. An iphone or psp allows employees to have a little time for themselves and boost morale. the oil spill puzzle game is one that I really like. its like pushups for the brain. So Im staying shart while giving my body a rest. I found it at http://bit.ly/avH6zS

GoodOh
GoodOh

We not only forbid employees from carrying PSPs on work trips they are also required to NEVER read the comics in the newspapers they buy with their own money and carry during work travel. Business and world news only!! (Sports section by special permission ONLY if related to the client's business.)

john.hamilton
john.hamilton

I don't expect we'll ever get anything other than Blackberry for staff. Our company has the BB devices securely tied down: - no USB connections - only web access via company filtered proxies - no non-corporate email - no software installation, or even ringtunes (except corporate approved) - encrypted memory cards - device wiped after 3 x failed passwords - device locked after 5 mins inactivity - long cryptic password Thankfully they have now seen the sense in allowing phone calls to be made without the need for typing the long cryptic password. Until Apple, or anyone, come close to providing a similar secure (aka crippled) device we will be sticking to Blackberry. Games ? ha ha - no chance ! The exact same rules for company PCs and Laptops are applied to smartphones. ...you know it makes sense.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

I don't find any of what you said unbelievable. I also think the Blackberries you're using are so crippled that you can't do half of what you NEED to do on it. Those things are little better than a Palm Pilot with a phone attached. What DO you use them for?

john.hamilton
john.hamilton

Quite the contrary, our staff can do all they NEED to do. Sure many can't do what they would like to do - but that is a corporate decision to control these device and it's access exactly the same as we do for laptops and PCs. The BBs have access to, and often hold, sensitive data. Sad, but true: we need to protect devices from our users as well as external threats. I briefly looked at a mobile voice dictation system, and (later) shockingly found that it would send 'samples' of speech and text back to the software developer ! While this was listed in their looong agreement, it is scary !!

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