When Apple recently announced its SDK and Exchange support for the iPhone it unleashed a lot of talk about the iPhone becoming an enterprise powerhouse and even a BlackBerry killer. I thought it would useful to see where the iPhone currently stands, so that we can track its progress over the next 12-24 months and see what kind of traction it gets in the enterprise.
The first poll revealed that over half of businesses have iPhone users.
The second poll showed that there's a much smaller percentage of IT departments that actually support the iPhone.
Keep in mind that this was not a scientific poll, and that the percentages and the number of respondents are as of March 20, when I am writing this post. The polls are still open so the number could still fluctuate a bit. Also, since this is a voluntary poll it's likely that it attracted people who were interested in the iPhone to respond. Thus, the number of businesses where there are iPhone users could be a little high, and so could the number of IT departments that support it.
However, one thing that is clear and undisputed is that there are a lot of companies that currently have iPhone users who are not supported by IT. This is the type of situation that I was talking about in my recent column "Sanity check: Should IT support user-owned smartphones?" The idea is that it's better to support user-owned smartphones and at least have some idea of what you're dealing with -- and maybe even put a few guidelines and protections in place -- than to say 'No' to supporting user-owned devices and have a bunch of users putting business data on their devices behind your back.
This user-owned smartphone issue isn't exclusive to the iPhone, but based on TechRepublic's data, the issue is definitely acute for iPhone users and their IT departments. Apple's iPhone SDK and recently-announced enterprise improvements should definitely get more IT departments on board to officially support it.
However, it will likely take a couple years before it becomes a major threat to BlackBerry's enterprise dominance because BlackBerry has been working with IT departments for almost a decade to tailor a solution to their concerns and needs. I also have my doubts about whether the iPhone's on-screen keyboard can stand up to the large amounts of data entry that is done on enterprise-class devices.
Will your IT department embrace the iPhone? Join the discussion.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.