Despite what some clients believe I do not work for Blackberry nor for Microsoft! I do however have some pretty strong opinions about the iPhone and their rapid adoption as the ‘must have CEO’ device. It is a real love / hate relationship; One the one hand they are the most elegant, powerful and purpose build devices that exist in the marketplace. The iPhone is the number one consumer electronic device.
The phone is masterful at web browsing, turning heads and having extensibility for third party applications. It is really the most potent pocket computer and it has changed the expectations that we have of a phone and a rich media device. However it is not ready for Corporate prime time!
If you own one you already know it’s the best browser, not the best business PDA.
Your IT people already know this, but tens of thousands of CEO’s are creating havoc on your mail servers, your corporate security policies and their good nature. The one thing the phone has going for it is that your IT people love Apple so they are willing (but not happy) to put up with it. Oh yea, they also want one when it finally syncs with the corporate mail server.
The technology that the phone is lacking is called direct “Exchange Server Push” this means that your phone gets email pushed to it as soon as it comes in within a few seconds. The way that the phone currently works is that the phone connects every few minutes to the server and then checks to see if there is any new email. Not as efficient nor as fast as the push technology. Apple wants it, and so does everyone else.
You must be wondering why I am making such a big deal about this? Well it because most businesses are needing to adjust their firewall / spam filtering policies to allow access to the iPhone for IMAP and SMTP connections. The iPhone also does not have a sophisticated anti-spam feature like most modern email clients so phone inboxes are getting plagued with spam. Nothing like 1,000 new Viagra and Trouser Snake emails on your phone when you wake up!
Security is also a huge concern, with phones like the Blackberry or Windows Mobile your handset can be remotely erased if it gets lost. Not so with the iPhone. Think about it most desired phone on the market, and with a $500 price point mainly executives are going to own them; and there is a lot of sensitive information on them.
As dedicated and caring IT people we know that the phone is amazing, we know that you just have to have it.. but understand that there are limitations. Using iTunes to sync contacts and calendars is taking a step backwards and it becomes another one off software application that we have to support.
I know of a number of execs that are running iPhones as their personal phones / browsers but still keep Blackberries on their hips to keep in touch with the office. Do I believe that the trend will continue? I know that Apple will be releasing the software in the next major version to support syncing with Microsoft Exchange Server.
My advice if you have to have the have to have phone; go ahead and get it but remember your poor IT staff along the way. For the Enterprise the security issues and the lack of push email would keep me from endorsing it whole-heartedly. The other issue is that the phone is tied only to the ATT network. The phone is not perfect, it is getting there but it is not the best PDA on the market for corporate users.
Wait a few months, get the latest software revision pre-installed and keep an eye on your phone. Or get a Blackberry 🙂