updated 10:30 am EDT, Fri June 22, 2007
Gartner on iPhone in IT
Analyst firm Gartner will warn IT managers to avoid integrating the iPhone into their companies, according to an upcoming report timed to arrive alongside the device itself next week. The research group warns that the iPhone is built for personal use rather than the workplace, with most of its e-mail services tailored to individuals and no security measures to guard data on networks or against loss. The device "changes the game" for the average user but is misplaced in offices, according to senior analyst Ken Dulaney. [updated]
"This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities, and it's important that it be recognized as such," he says. "You'll have e-mail in a place that's unsecured. There are no firewalls on the device. There's no ability to wipe [info from] the device if it's lost."
A lack of Exchange, Lotus Notes, and PBX support could be especially damaging, he adds. Apple CEO Steve Jobs mentioned that the iPhone supports Microsoft Exchange during the Macworld San Francisco keynote in January but only pointed to its IMAP delivery method, which is widely regarded as less secure than the format often reserved only for Windows computers and Windows Mobile devices.
Pricing also isn't worthwhile for what the device can do for a business, he says. To be more effective, it would require extra security and support that Apple can't currently deliver.
But warnings may not matter in practice, according to a follow-up observation by Apple analyst Seth Weintraub. While companies may advise against the device at first, they may have little choice but to accommodate it as both mainstream users and executives buy the device.
"The reality is that no matter how hard IT administrators try, the iPhone will be snapped up by their employees -- and not just the average Joes either," he says. "The device is a status symbol that will likely be snapped up by business leaders as the digital technorati. Try telling your CEO the iPhone doesn't play well with your IT systems."
The author also notes that Web 2.0 support may circumvent today's complaints, as Google apps and other web-based production tools may let employees work on projects remotely. Apple's truce with Cisco may also open the door to secure VPN clients and other tools for connecting to an office network, he suggests.
iPhone demand strong for business
A recent report also suggests that more than one in four consumers indicate interest in purchasing an iPhone, and that similar trends in the business market could make Apple's handset a fierce competitor. The survey suggests that nearly 10 percent of businesses planning to purchase new devices in the third quarter are planning to buy Apple's iPhone, reinforcing Weintraub's beliefs about desire usurping function.
Rumors are also circulating that Apple is planning to integrate the iPhone with current corporate email installations, thereby making the device compatible with existing BlackBerry email servers. Many companies have already reported steady inquiries from employees about whether the iPhone will work with mail services and other infrastructure.