TotalCIO

Aug 13 2008   10:34AM GMT

IPhone: A tool for enterprise?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

As if Apple’s iPhone 3G sales weren’t already lofty enough, now comes the news that mega-retailer Best Buy will begin selling the devices Sept. 7.

Confession: I am a scant one-and-a-half weeks away from purchasing my very own iPhone 3G. I’ve been waiting patiently until my contract with my current provider expires, and the day is almost here. I’m even trying to figure out if I can purchase it a week early, given the incentive my lovely state of Massachusetts (Not Tax-achusetts, at least for this weekend!) is offering.

But enough about me; let’s talk about you. I’ve been curious about IT executives’ views on the iPhone, especially now that it’s been on the market for more than a year, the new version doubles the Internet speed, and the Apple website boasts an “iPhone in Enterprise” section devoted to business applications.

My impression is that the iPhone is still viewed by those in enterprise as a novelty, not a business tool. Maybe you own one, personally, but you’re still more likely tied to your office via your BlackBerry or other such device. And full-scale iPhone deployment to mobile staff is still a long way off as Apple continues to chip away at security and integration issues.

Is this accurate? What are your thoughts on — or experiences with — iPhone in the enterprise world?

17  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    I agree with Rachel. Our CEOs are pushing us (systems and technical support area)to deploy and support iPhone 3G worldwide in the company. We are evaluating the impact of it. In particular I'm worry about. Please can you tell us (with details if it is possible) what are the security and integration issues? Thanks. Rgds...
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    Simple. Is not an enterprise tool. I'm also not buying mp3 players or 6:1 soundcards and speaker setups; I don't allow peer-to-peer filesharing and would be greatly annoyed to find highest MB per IP were downloads of HD feature films. If you want a serious enterprise new-technology mobile, look at the OpenMoko FreeRunner. So good we're not just buying them for use but have signed up as a VAR. Far more cost-effective, more customisable and extendable and are available SIM-free...
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    We never considered the iPhone until the 2.0 release. Now that the Exchange integration is there with the iPhone interface, our executives are now taking a look. The lack of battery life and the soft keyboard will be detractors for some executives. We expect to roll out a fairly large number of iPhone's this fall. Jim
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    Here are a couple of stories that our sister site, SearchCIO-Midmarket.com, has run regarding the iPhone, which should provide a better idea of the security and integration issues: iPhone improvements OK, but not a sure thing Smartphone envy creates chaos for CIOs
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    To say I am disappointed with Apple’s offering would be an understatement. I was very excited to be selected as a pilot user to test the new 3G iPhone at our corporation - as a long time iPod and Smartphone user I was looking forward to the company finally offering the iPhone so that I could carry one device. Well, after 6 days of testing, I was done and handed it back to IT. Whoever did the Exchange support at Apple should be slapped - there are so many issues that I cannot believe Apple has actually spent time designing this. Definitely not up to my expectations - most are software issues, so hopefully they will wake up - if they want to play in the corporate space they need to find out what corporations expect. My experience began to go wrong almost from the beginning. After having IT install iTunes on my laptop (locked down image), I began the setup only to receive an “unknown error 502″ from iTunes once I connected the phone. Support was worthless and said the system was overloaded for new activations - but a little time on Google found a blog that pointed me to the proxy settings. That sorted, it was on to use the phone. Side by side with my HTC Tytn II it was a clear winner - finally a phone I could put back into my pocket. Service was only one bar as compared to my HTC with 3, but they are on different carriers, so that is really not a fair comparison. The UI is outstanding and even without reviewing the supplied “finger tips” guide I was up and running after supplying my Exchange credentials. I headed out, got into my Mini and did the bluetooth pairing to my handsfree (factory installed). Pairing was successful, but for some reason only about 60 of my 600 contacts would transfer. Left it alone thinking that it just needed time, but after 2 days nothing had changed. Deleted and re-paired, but still the same issue. I’ve done a full review of my contacts in datasheet view looking for some common field that would explain the issue, but had no luck. So, in no particular order, here are my other issues: - Will not dial UK phone numbers that have the embedded local 0 (this means editing all my contacts to remove the 0) - Battery life about 7-8 hours with my (very light) business usage (not listening to music, no videos, no web and a couple phone calls). Same usage on my HTC gives me about 14 hours. The downside for me is that I really need a phone that can get me through the business day without having to put it on a charger. - Getting to the corporate address book is a chore - I guess Apple thought corporate users wouldn’t need to look at the address book to look anything up. - No Internet Sharing (using your phone as a 3G modem). This would mean buying a separate 3G card for my laptop and having a second data plan. From a corporate standpoint this means double spend. I understand there are third parties working on this, but to me this should have been included by default. - No support for Activesync Schedule - I use push from 6am to midnight and pull from midnight to 6am (to conserve battery life) - No smart filtering, although as you are limited to at max 200 emails messages, maybe that is not an issue. - No ability to delete or move messages when there is no connectivity. I spend a lot of time on the Tube in London with no service - I normally read and delete mails but not anymore. Why connectivity is required to delete a message is beyond me, but the error messages telling me message cannot be deleted pushed me over the edge. - You cannot set to automatically download attachments. - Messages do not automatically download – when you move from preview into the actual email, it is downloaded at that time. The issue I have found is that if I click on a message in preview when I have no service, the resulting email is blank (not even the preview text is displayed). - There is no setting to determine how much of a message to download. On Windows Mobile, my company sets the first 1k to download only. This is critical for roaming internationally where data roaming is charged per k! iPhone only offers roaming or not, so it is clear that they did not consider any organisations that need to use their phones outside of one market (the US). There will be quite a few accounting departments dismayed when they receive charges of a thousand pounds or more. If you are going to push this as an enterprise device, you would think that Apple might actually want to look at what was already available with Smartphones. Other stuff: - The camera is an experience - did I accidentally get into the Wayback Machine ? Why even bother putting it on. Complete rubbish! - No video – recording or video calls. As I use video calls this is another big issue. If it was the only issue I could live without it I am sure, but with all the other issues it is a deal breaker. I do think the phone is outstanding and I am sure it will do well in the market. From my standpoint however, it remains a consumer device with some corporate features tacked on versus something that was designed with the corporate user in mind.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    I use many Apple products. I bought Iphone on that famous friday. Now i got 3g. Many improvements i saw inbetween. As eric rightly said 3G needs much of software upgradation. Speeds are not Always 3G. It depends on the area you work. Unfortunately the area I work falls under a shadow. and we have no control over the selection of 3G and EDGE. it automatically selects. Here some the problem. when E sugnal is high suddenly it switches to 3G whose signal is very weak. I am not sure why this is so when both signals are from same tower. So speed is always a question. Only lucky few will get 3G. So buying a New 3G phone doesnt guarentee a 3 G service. Battery, abyssymal.I will alway skeep my wifi off to conserve energy. Hopefully, APPLE and AT&T come sout with a plan to repsect thier customers by honoring their promises! Corporate use, apple didnt promise. btu after all thie Iphone is a Small capacity computer. they can always and very easily make it compatible with security and other aspects. Most probably it is the infrastrcutre, and not the available technology that is giving these issues to Iphone. and this infrastucture upgrade means Long wait in these near recession days!!! and more sacrifices from customers like me who boght and support Apple thier first products( like iphone original)
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    The iPhone also has a basically cripled bluetooth setup where: • It can't transfer files to a PC, or appear on a desktop for drag-and-drop file juggling. • It can't send a photo to a Bluetooth printer. • It can't stream audio via Bluetooth to a compatible speaker system or headset. (Video is out of the question.) So with these handicaps along with the ones given above, why would it even be concidered for corporate use?
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    We are believers. Anyone who says the iPhone is NOT a tool for business "PC guy" who has a grudge against Apple and is not a forward thinker. We have opened a developer relationship with Apple so we can develop our enterprise financial apps on the iPhone and distribute it to our field reps. As far as IT goes, its the next best thing to a laptop. I can RDP in to any of my servers at anytime to fix a problem or prevent one. Mail, Contact and Calendar integration with Exchange is now easy and secure. While some see the soft keyboard as a negative I don't. Like any new keyboard it takes time getting used to. Once you do it works just fine. The battery life could be better. But I solve it by charging on the way home from work in the car. My charge lasts the whole work day. if it doesn't I plug it in to my computer. Not great, but workable. Oh, one more thing. I hope my "CORPORATE" users aren't sending files to a bluetooth printer. haha Mark
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    After looking at the iPhone 3G for our users, I come to the conclusion that it's a great smartphone for consumer users that have some corporate needs but it's really not yet ready for prime-time for the power corporate user. One of the biggest issues, the lack of 3G support in our site area, completely defeats any advantages to internet speeds. Of course this is largely due to the fact that the iPhone is only offered on ATT's network. The other problem is that there is no copy and paste so there's no data exchange between applications. To me this is the primary reason to have a smartphone over a traditional cell phone. I believe if you can't work on a smartphone for most of your productivity needs it's purpose is pretty much defeated. The other issue I have is the inability to replace the battery. There are times with heavy usage and travelling that you just need extra batteries. The iPhone has no way to change batteries at all. All in all, the iPhone is very sexy... to the point that it can be called even glamorous, but it lacks the basic features that corporate power users may need.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    The iphone is a novelty. While it can provide tools for productive uses (email, web access), most who purchase boast of its non business uses. Having said that - we must support it because it is what the customer expects.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    I-T-S A T-O-Y
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    I have had my iPhone 3G for about month, purchased in Australia (thats were I live) and it is fully unlocked (legally) and I am ready to swap it with my daughters iTouch. No copy/Paste. No tasks outside of the calendar. No note sync. Can't backup SMS messages. Unable to attach multiple images to emails. From the photo browser you can only send ONE picture. Can not forward contact details to others. Can't use the content of an SMS for other functions (ie if someone sends a phone number or address). keyboard is hit and miss and practice doesn't necessarily improve capability. When overseas the GPS is near useless unless you want to pay the high international roaming data rates or can find a free wifi connection. GPS does not offer turn-by-turn capability so no good in a vehicle unless the passenger manages the unit. This is just preliminary list. For business, not practical.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    I have used Blackberry extensively and the iPhone for the full year since it has been out. The conclusion is very simple: Blackberry is and will be the superior business tool because it is designed better for that purpose, operates more reliably for that purpose, and is led by a company deeply focused on that purpose. As a result it simply gets more done, easier, faster in the hands of the people it is designed for: busy business professionals. iPhone is a great consumer tool and the addition of applications will make it wildly successful as a consumer device and occasional niche device for business to use for special purposes (factory, loading dock, retail store, but not as tool for the general professional. It is led by a Company focused and successful on the consumer market and this will both help it succeed in general, and limit it's competitiveness in the business market. Bottom line: Both are great tools, but excel in very different ways. Mike
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    The iPhone any iPhone is a toy nothing more. For business, that needs a phone to integrate with Exchange, a Blackberry is the way to go. I reference Blackberry because that is what my company uses the iPhones were tested and deemed a toy.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    Expectation setting is the key. Far too many people, bloggers in this thread included, want a fully inclusive device that meets all their needs. Unfortunately this does not exist, yet. We use the iPhone because it works for what we need. Do we want the always-on email that Blackberry users seem to crave - no - we use sms for alerting and wireless connected laptops to do work. We have Citrix-enabled remote access and can get back to the enterprise for all critical apps via the iPhone if absolutely necessary. We do not try and make the iPhone into the laptop replacement nor a one-stop shop for all activities. Best reason for user adopting the iPhone is ease of use - training people to use it has been zero! Stability is fine for what we use it for and features (the business ones) are sufficient. Plus it has a number of other applications (base and 3rd party) that make it much more usable for non-work use. One of the things my users like is being able to have one device for work and play - that is a real win.
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    Far from an enterprise class tool but potentially more than a novelty. I only got an iTouch to test for enterprise application in combination with our ubiquitous wifi. As such I have no opinion on the 3G, voice and GPS functions of the Iphone. I have been working extensively with the applications and data/netork features. Regarding the mail features this is still a severe weak point for iPhones/iTouch in the enterprise. Even if the Exchange tools were fully functional, there are many enterprises that are not using exchange. The Blackberry enterpise server seupports other platforms (such as ours, Novell Groupwise)and is quite full featured. In our case I am evaluating the iPhone/iTouch as a data access/system managment tool. We use an older Cisco 3000 series vpn in combination with RSA token authentication to secure access to these services. The iphone ipsec client is failing with RSA authentication and we would have to upgrade our concentrators to fix the issue (if that is actually a fix). Until the IPSEC vpn client works with RSA token authentication, the iPhone/iTouch can't even be used as a special purpose device for field technicians to use in performance of their duties. So we either upgrade our concentrators or ...?
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  • Rachel Lebeaux
    iPhone's usefulness in the enterprise (and for the individual, for that matter) is SEVERELY LIMITED by Apple's joint agreement with AT&T, whose wireless coverage is puny, at best, outside large metropolitan areas. Our (medium-sized) corporation does most of it's business in an 80 mile by 50 mile chunk of the East Coast (Tidewater Virginia and parts South) and my new iPhone 3G doesn't have service in over half of that area, including my home. Verizon's coverage, by way of contrast, includes virtually the whole territory. The appliance itself, with its burgeoning array of applications, is remarkable--the next level of technology, in my opinion. But the iPhone will never be an enterprise solution if we are not permitted to negotiate our own contracts with service providers. Once again, Apple's arrogance has limited their ability to market their product.
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