The Network Hub

Mar 10 2008   7:04PM GMT

iPhone SDK, enterprise features: Nice, but not enough

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Let me just say, I have no horse in this race. I’m no BlackBerry crackhead and I’m no iPhone fan boy. When Apple announced its iPhone enterprise play last week, I started working the phones. My plan was to talk to a handful of analysts and put together a reaction story about the news. I figured I’d find experts on both sides of the fence. But just about everyone I talked to had his doubts about the announcement. Some of them welcomed the software development kit (SDK), the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support and the Cisco IPsec VPN client as good first steps, but all of them said that the iPhone still has some major barriers to break through before it can win acceptance as an enterprise smartphone.

So my story on the iPhone’s enterprise features ended up being something of a counterpoint to the blog post that Amy Kucharik wrote in this space on Friday. In her tour through the blogosphere she found several experts who were more sanguine about the iPhone announcement.

In the reporting I did for my story, I found that analysts still had strong reservations about the iPhone as an enterprise smartphone. There are still some issues that have dogged the iPhone from the beginning, such as the single-carrier agreement with AT&T, the touchscreen keyboard that many QWERTY devotees reject, and the iPhone’s heritage as entertainment device.

Some of the analysts I talked to also had doubts about whether the SDK release would promote the development of many enterprise applications. Many third-party developers will likely go after the more lucrative consumer market instead. Others pointed out that ActiveSync support hasn’t helped other smartphones make much of a dent in the BlackBerry’s dominance of the push email space — so why should the iPhone be any different?

There’s no question that these announcements make it easier for iPhone owners to use their devices on the job. That is a big deal. So all this leaves me wondering, is this announcement aimed at convincing IT executives to deploy or support the iPhone in their companies? Or, is this announcement really about convincing consumers that they can use their iPhones on the job? My guess is, it’s the latter.

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