iPhone neglects the prosumer

Summary:Once the Macworld Steve Jobs glow wears off corporate types, which could be described as prosumers, are going to face a series of interesting decisions. Here they are: --Do I get an iPhone?

Once the Macworld Steve Jobs glow wears off corporate types, which could be described as prosumers, are going to face a series of interesting decisions.

Here they are:

--Do I get an iPhone?
--Will I still need my Blackberry/Treo for business?
--How will it interact with my corporate network when synching contacts, Outlook etc.?
--How important is pushing corporate email to me?
--Will my CIO support it?
--How will OS X work with my corporate Windows environment?

Initially, none of this will matter as there will be tremendous pent up demand on the consumer side, but the lack of corporate email is one of the bigger missing iPhone elements. However, it is an issue worth raising down the road. It's also one of the issues many ZDNet readers will have to ponder when deciding whether to buy an iPhone.

The reason Research in Motion's Pearl has been a hit is because it took corporate popularity and leveraged it. Let's face it there are many Blackberry and Windows Mobile smartphones in the market because of corporate ties. Palm's Treo survives due to the ability to handle spreadsheets, PowerPoints and other enterprise documents.

What's the big deal? The iPhone has non-corporate-grade e-mail functionality and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) rather than High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) wireless Internet. That's a fancy way to say the iPhone isn't 3G. The first volley of iPhone's push email is a deal with Yahoo mail. But pushing corporate email may be more important since smartphones straddle the corporate/consumer divide. As a result, the iPhone may put off potential corporate customers, opines Steve Lidberg in a Pacific Crest Securities research note.

Lidberg adds that he expects Apple to address these issues in future models, but enterprise users need to ponder it. There's also an interesting calculation made by Apple, which by removing the "Computer" from its name, has fully transitioned to a consumer electronics company. The calculation appears to be that prosumers don't matter--at least initially.

It's quite possible that iPhone's desktop browsing experience does away with some of these concerns. But it's a bit unclear at this juncture.

Meanwhile, most analysts expect iPhone to occupy a premium brand position and then move downstream. This strategy is consistent with what Apple did with iPods and its different flavors--Mini, Nano, and Shuffle.

However, that strategy may neglect the prosumer. Some smart Wall Street types are already spotting the prosumer-iPhone disconnect. Bear Stearns analyst Andy Neff--one of the best in the business--noted that "we would buy RIMM on weakness given iPhone's lack of corporate email, price premium vs. RIMM, and sole availability at Cingular and in U.S."

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Topics: iPhone


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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