updated 01:50 pm EDT, Wed August 13, 2008
HSBC Mulls iPhone Swap
Worldwide bank HSBC is considering replacing its fleet of 200,000 BlackBerries with iPhones, the company tells ZDNet. The institution's CIO for Australia and New Zealand, Brenton Hush, says that HSBC is determining the phone's usefulness on the corporate network and would potentially deploy the phone on a global basis. No definitive conclusions are said to have been reached on the iPhone, which at present is still a secondary concern at the regional level.
Any such change would require a significant infrastructure shift at HSBC. Most traditional BlackBerry deployments in large businesses depend on a middleware server that must connect to Research in Motion's central server to push e-mail in and out to company phones, limiting the company's own servers to synchronizing data between workers' PCs and their BlackBerries. The system has come under criticism from some businesses after a string of outages at RIM within the past year made it impossible to receive BlackBerry mail worldwide, even when companies' own individual servers were active.
The iPhone 2.0 software instead depends on Microsoft's Exchange collaboration technology and receives messages, calendars, and contacts directly from a company-owned server. Adapting to this approach would require substantial effort, but is helped by a "pretty smart" iPhone design, Hush says.
A 200,000-unit switch would represent Apple's largest-ever order for iPhones and would mark a subtantial and sudden loss for RIM, whose success with BlackBerries was founded on large corporate deals and is only now expanding into personal use with phones such as the Bold and the Curve.
The Canadian-designed phone series has regularly edged out competing devices due to its early successes over Windows Mobile with real-time push e-mail and wasn't affected by the intial launch of the iPhone last year, which at the time went without any business push data support and didn't allow third-party native code that would fill the void.