Arguably one of the most significant product releases of the last few years, Apple’s iPhone has attracted millions of loyal customers. The intense consumer demand and marketing frenzy prior to the iPhone launch was so intense that some pundits dubbed the device the “Jesus phone.” That customer demand helped Apple capture a sizeable chunk of the overall smartphone market (including consumer sales): Market research firm Canalys estimates that “Apple took 28 percent share of the fast growing US converged device market in Q4 2007, behind RIM’s 41 percent, but a long way ahead of third-placed Palm on 9 percent” (see www.canalys.com/pr/2008/r2008021.htm).
Although those sales figures reflect the demand for the iPhone in the consumer end of the market, Apple is clearly making a concerted effort to get the iPhone into the hands of more enterprises. Apple indicated at a press event in March that it was licensing Microsoft’s Active- Sync protocol, a technology that will let IT departments integrate the iPhone with Microsoft Outlook email, contacts, address lists, and calendars. ActiveSync will also let administrators erase data on lost devices, manage passwords, and configure VPN settings on iPhones used in the enterprise. The iPhone 2.0 firmware update will also support Cisco Systems’ IPsec VP and the WPA2/802.1x wireless protocol.
Third-party vendors have been eager to provide product offerings that can facilitate the use of the iPhone in the enterprise, ranging from the Sybase iAnywhere OneBridge secure email platform to an iPhone variant of IBM’s Lotus Notes email client. AT&T Mobility (Apple’s only US wireless carrier) also announced earlier this year that it would begin selling the iPhone to enterprise customers as well.
So will all these developments help Apple make inroads into the enterprise with the iPhone? Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney thinks so and changed his initially lukewarm opinion of the device as an enterprise client to a more positive recommendation. “In its initial release, the iPhone was, with few exceptions, an Internet tablet with browser-based applications as its main offering. However, the release of firmware 2.0 changes that,” Delaney said. “\[The new firmware allows\] enterprises to develop local code and create applications that do not depend on network capabilities…. The iPhone will thus match up initially in several segments against its main smartphone competitors: BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian Series 60 \[S60\].”