updated 09:20 am EDT, Fri November 5, 2010
BofA and Citigroup testing iPhone option
Both Bank of American and Citigroup are running tests on services that would let workers drop the BlackBerry and use an iPhone instead, leaks from both companies mentioned on Friday. Three contacts said the two are trialing software that would keep e-mail secure. Bloomberg in getting the details didn't say whether they were simply using built-in Exchange support or if third-party apps were involved.
Each experiment has more than 1,000 staff members involved and should take between four to six weeks. Bank of America's test is mostly complete but would involve an in-between dry run before it would commit to offering iPhone support. Neither of the banks would confirm their efforts but did acknowledge that they regularly explore new technology.
The option wouldn't constitute a mandatory shift way from the BlackBerry but could see the smartphone OS' adoption drop at two of its more important corporate clients. RIM has been hit with a number of setbacks in just the past few months, including a Standard Chartered iPhone option and, most recently, a Dell switch to Windows Phone 7. Analysts at Goldman Sachs and elsewhere have warned that companies are less interested in BlackBerry than ever before. Many users either want to use their personal smartphones, which are less likely to be BlackBerry models, or else want the more modern interfaces and wider app variety.
Apple has been cautious about pushing into enterprise and just on Friday end-of-lifed the Xserve, but it has lately begun putting more effort overall into persuading businesses and just recently hired Unisys to promote not only Macs but iPhones and iPads as enterprise-level tools. About 80 percent of the Fortune 500 is now either using or testing iPhones as some or all of a corporate deployment.