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HSBC may swap 200K BlackBerries for iPhones

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.

By Electronista Staff


  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    iPhone Security, another

    It's that middleware server of RIM's that may have HSBC eyeing askance at their current provider. I find it truly amazing that even DoD people use their BBs with sensitive information. Yes, it may be encrypted, but with as porous as Canada's borders are (where all the RIM servers are) I wouldn't think that we could feel so secure with possibly sensitive information stopping by this place before its intended destination.

    The "pretty smart" iPhone design probably didn't hurt matters either ;-).

  1. Chris Hutcheson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2000



    Yup, it's pretty porous up here....I sit here by my window and watch all those 1's and 0's sliding up and down the street in front of me, while I chew on my pemmican and wax my skis.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    RIM security

    Because we know just sending emails anywhere else is known to be a secure task. Its just those darned RIM servers...

  1. simdude

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2004


    re: Porous

    Don't forget the back bacon, eh?

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999


    Are you kidding!!?

    This decision would almost have to be based on some CIO's personal preference rather than sound business research if HSBC went ahead with an Iphone deployment.

    The Iphone is an awesome device, no question, I even have one in addition to my BlackBerry, but as a REPLACEMENT for the BlackBerry? On what planet?

    As a whole, RIM has been highly reliable over the last 5 years. The OS platform is well maintained and highly secure. You can't say highly secure and Iphone in the same sentence. The Iphone OS/firmware was hacked BEFORE the phone was even released. Yet, the BlackBerry OS, despite its popularity and longevity, has yet to have one single security flaw in it. It's the most secure device available!

    As for Active Synch on Exchange, SSL is the only security between the server and the Iphone, doesn't that scare anyone who might bank at HSBC?

    You can't get any less functional, from an email standpoint, when talking about ANY Active Synch enabled device. No automatic notification of email to your myriad of sub folders on Exchange has always boggled my mind. When it comes to sending and receiving email, there is absolutely NO competition for the BlackBerry, not one single delivery method and end-user experience comes close!

    Lastly, lets talk about remote device management... There is very little you can do to remotely manage the Iphone over Active Synch. Unlike a BlackBerry, administrators will not be able to deploy IT policies to the Iphone to secure it from end users. On the other hand, at least Steve Jobs and his Cronies can remotely nuke your applications if he doesn't approve.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. OtisWild

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2005


    iPhone not ready...

    ... As has been discussed in a bunch of reviews, at the very least you can't search your Exchange mailbox on the iPhone.. Plus, without the ability to edit Office files, it's kind of a waste of time for biz use.

    And I've got one! And I like it! I just don't see it replacing a 'real' business phone until it can do at least as much as a Crackberry can.

    (and where's my free SSH port and Juniper SSL VPN support?)

  1. dimmer

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Feb 2006



    It's iPhone, not Iphone

    "SSL is the only security between the server and the Iphone, doesn't that scare anyone who might bank at HSBC?"
    That same SSL that I use everyday with Amazon, PayPal, my bank? Oh horrors!

    I'd go on, but you are clearly just a RIM troll. I'm really, really sorry that the iPhone is not just eating your lunch but adding value in a "Two girls one cup" fashion.

    So FOAD?

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999



    Iphone, Iphone, Iphone :)-

  1. ClevelandAdv

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2004


    Are you kidding?

    1. There are many hacks and viruses that have infested the Blackberry.

    2. Let me see you crack open the 256-bit SSL connection.

    2. Enterprise installations of the iPhone have the ability to add policies to all aspects of the iPhone, and can secure and remote wipe.

    3. Testing Blackberry Push email vs iPhone Exchange ActiveSync we have found the iPhone consistently received and sent messages faster than the Blackberry, and the iPhone interface was faster to use overall.

    4. Not to mention that the Blackberries are butt-ugly, more expensive and have a lousy interface.

    Other than that that Guest was right on the money!

  1. luckyday

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2008



    I'm willing to bet the conclusion of the study is that the iphone is not a feasible choice. Any takers? Paypal. $50.

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