Will the iPhone 5 matter to CIOs?

Summary:Will the iPhone continue to be the smartphone of choice among executives? Or will CIOs be looking with renewed interest at Windows 8 devices?

Jason Hiner

Jason Hiner

Yes

or

No

Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger

Best Argument: No

22%
78%

Audience Favored: No (78%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Winning over CIOs different from winning over CEOs

Jason Hiner: Almost in spite of itself, Apple has become a powerful player in the enterprise with the iPhone and the iPad. The iPhone 5 doesn’t do much to make itself more attractive to businesses and their IT departments, but it also doesn’t do anything that’s likely to slow the momentum that it has among executives and business professionals.

Apple does very little to cater to IT departments. It does just enough to keep CIOs from being able to reject it, but not enough to really make CIOs happy. That’s why a lot of CIOs are excited about the next generation of Windows 8-powered tablets and smartphones. Windows devices are simply a lot more manageable for IT and Microsoft is a better corporate partner.

However, even if the next-generation Windows devices deliver and CIOs love them, winning over CIOs is a much different game than winning over CEOs. The iPhone will continue to be the smartphone of choice among executives and average business professionals because it is still the easiest smartphone to use, it still has the best apps, the price is still right, and it’s available on more wireless carriers than ever.

CIOs have just been marking time with the iPhone

Steve Ranger Until now many CIOs have reluctantly tolerated the iPhones and iPads that have infiltrated the enterprise. CIOs have put up with iPhones - despite their traditional suspicion of consumer handsets -- because they couldn’t offer a decent alternative. Until now.

But this year, the somewhat underwhelming iPhone 5 launch is sandwiched between two other events that will be of far more significance for many CIOs: the unveiling of Nokia 920 and the launch of Microsoft Surface.

As a result of this pincer movement, the iPhone 5, with its bigger screen and remodelled connector may not be enough to persuade CIOs to build their device strategy around Apple.

Many CIOs have been waiting for a rival to the iPhone and iPad combination that complements their existing, Windows-based desktop infrastructure. The lack of a must-have feature for business users in the iPhone 5 means CIOs will be looking with renewed interest at Windows 8 devices instead.

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Mic check, please

    Are my debaters standing by? We'll be starting promptly at 11am ET / 3pm BT.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Ready to go...

    Looking forward to it!

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    Ready and raring...

    Plenty to debate here!

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    OK, first question:

    The iPhone 5 lands Sept. 21 and with it will come chapter 4,500 (roughly) of the bring-your-own-device saga. Do you see an iPhone 5 upgrade cycle in corporations?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Definitely

    There will definitely be an iPhone 5 upgrade cycle in business. Some of it will be companies rolling out iPhones to replace BlackBerries. We’ve been hearing more and more of those stories from the Fortune 500 and some companies have naturally been waiting to do it for a while until a full iPhone redesign like the iPhone 5.

    There are also plenty of business professionals running around with iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 that are now a couple generations behind and are coming to the end of contracts and will be ready to upgrade.

    You also have the iPhone 5 on a lot more wireless carriers than ever with some disgruntled BlackBerry and Android users who have been waiting to upgrade and are more likely to pull the trigger now that the iPhone is available on their carrier.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    No great rush this time around, for most

    For firms that have already made the iPhone their enterprise standard, there's enough innovation in the iPhone 5 for them to be willing to kick off an upgrade cycle. And sure, longer battery life, bigger screen and 4G LTE are all nice additions. But if your company hasn't already standardised on the iPhone then there's not enough here to encourage them to make the jump. Indeed, because there are now plenty of decent alternatives to the iPhone (with more on the way) corporations will think harder a lot harder about which handset to go for.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Companies or employees?

    As iPhone 5 devices hit the corporate market, do you expect the wave to be initiated by companies or employees?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Employees first and foremost

    More of it will be initiated by employees who are coming to the end of their contracts. A lot of those will be existing iPhone users who are ready to move up to a new model. The next biggest group will be BlackBerry users who have been waiting to ditch their old device and move to something new and most Fortune 500 companies are now supporting iPhone as an option (far more than Android, which is still viewed as a greater security risk).

    The third largest group will be Android converts. While Android is a great platform, it is still highly technical and some users get frustrated by it. Some of them also have app envy since the best apps usually land on the iPhone first. Now that the iPhone is available on more carriers, I hear lots of professionals moving from Android devices (like the original Droid on Verizon) to iPhones. I don’t have many of them telling me they are going the other way, from iPhone to Android.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    Fanboys will jump in first, as is the usual drill - enterprise adoption will come later

    Companies will kick off their iPhone upgrade over the next few months depending on individual firm’s investment cycles. But employee-bought iPhone 5's will start appearing in the office as soon as people get out of the queue at the Apple store, so the initial drive will certainly come from employees.

    Still, I don't see huge urgency for enterprise roll out right now - the iPhone 5 isn't a game-changer for business, simply a nice enough iPhone update.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    BYOD sustainable?

    Is the bring-your-own-device trend sustainable in the long run for the enterprise?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    That's the wrong question

    The answer is probably “no” but I don’t think it matters. It’s not going away. The day the CIO can convince the CEO to dump the iPhone for a Windows Phone device, we might see BYOD retrench a bit. And while that might actually be a decent recommendation from an IT security and manageability standpoint, it’s probably not a good recommendation from a usability and productivity point of view. We can reserve judgment on that until Windows Phone 8 devices arrive and we see how users react to them. However, I don’t expect executives and average business professionals to give up their iPhones any time soon.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    The business benefits of BYOD are too strong to ignore

    Enterprises won't abandon BYOD, simply because the benefits are great and the costs low. If a company can have more productive staff working longer hours and buying their own work hardware, what's not to like? Mobile device management software is maturing as well which will broaden the variety of hardware that IT shops are willing to support. However, CIOs are still keen where possible to have a consistent hardware ecosystem, where smartphone, desktop and tablet devices are all complementary. That's likely to be more of an advantage for Microsoft via Windows 8 (assuming that it’s a decent product) than it will be for Apple.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Fewer BlackBerries?

    Companies have transitioned to issuing the iPhone over devices like BlackBerries. Do you expect that trend to continue?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Indeed...

    Yes, the iPhone is becoming the default corporate choice for companies that don’t need a high-security mobile environment (for those, BlackBerry will continue to be the primary option). I expect Windows Phone to start challenging that this fall. Android devices are still generally viewed as a security risk and an even bigger manageability problem than the iPhone.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    The iPhone was winning the battle, then the war changed...

    RIM has had some tough times although it could still bounce back with BlackBerry 10. But CIOs don't like uncertainty and the iPhone is likely to continue to capitalise on that. Indeed, the last few years have been a tale of the iPhone and the BlackBerry battling for the CIO's affections.

    Unfortunately, just when the iPhone looked like it was about to win the battle, the war has changed.

    That's because the iPhone isn't the only option out there for CIOs looking for a new enterprise smartphone. Samsung's S3 has many fans, and the Lumia 920 – from what we’ve seen – could be a real favourite for CIOs, especially if there is strong integration between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Security advantages?

    What do you see as the security advantages of the iPhone platform, including the latest one?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    It's that closed platform thing

    For as much as consumers scream about the iPhone as a closed platform--and the pain is legitimate is most cases--that’s exactly what businesses like about it. Mostly, the biggest thing from a corporate standpoint is that it’s a lot harder for bad guys to push malware onto the iPhone and then end up compromising the device. That’s because all software apps have to get approved and go through the App Store, which is completely controlled by Apple. There are some enterprise software deployment options as well, but the fact that general iPhone users can’t get tricked into a installing malware from a web browser is the key.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    iPhone security now rivals that of BlackBerry

    The iPhone has got stronger and stronger from a security standpoint – hardware based encryption for data stored on the device and VPN support has done much to put the CIO's fears to rest.

    And the iPhone's walled garden for apps - for some developers a frustrating place because you have to play by Apple's rules - is something that CIOs find comforting. One consequence of course is that malware isn't an issue for iPhones, and mobile device management makes them easy to track or wipe if necessary.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    4G LTE support?

    Does 4G LTE support for iPhone 5 make it more attractive to enterprises?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    It's more psychological than anything else

    It will help in some cases for data-heavy power users, but I don’t expect it to be that big of a deal. If anything, it’s more of a mental barrier. The iPhone is no longer 18 months behind Android in adopting the latest wireless technology. So, for people who care about buying future-proof devices, that obstacle is gone.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    4G is nice, but it's a complicated picture

    4G LTE is probably the biggest selling point for enterprise because that can really help keep executives working while out of the office.

    But the Lumia 920 also has 4G (in more bands) as do another of other smartphones, so 4G is hardly an exclusive feature of the iPhone 5.

    Indeed, in Europe the iPhone 5's 4G coverage will very much dependent on what spectrum the mobile carrier has – for example it's likely that in the UK only one operator will have the correct spectrum to provide a 4G service for the iPhone, which limits the attractiveness. All of this means 4G is handy but the fragmented way it is being implemented worldwide undermines the usefulness of it.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    CIO concerns?

    What do you see as CIOs' largest concerns about the iPhone 5?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Manageability

    By far, the biggest problem is manageability. BlackBerries are a CIO’s dream because Research in Motion totally catered to what IT professionals needed in mobile manageability. Apple has done just enough to make the iPhone usable in a corporate environment, but certainly has not bent over backwards to accommodate IT departments or be an active enterprise partner. Still, it keeps delivering incremental improvements (especially to security) that make the iPhone a solid corporate device.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    It's still far too glamorous for business

    It's less 'concerns' and more 'regrets' when it comes to CIOs and the iPhone, in that they'd like to be able to do more with them, but can't. CIOs admire the design, the elegance of the user interface and the universe of apps. But many CIOs are used to technology built with the enterprise – and only the enterprise – in mind.

    That means an inherent suspicion of a frankly glamorous product that was built for consumers first. Really, they'd like something that fits more neatly into their corporate infrastructure. For many CIOs from a Windows background the iOS world is still strange and new.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    And biggest benefits?

    What are the biggest benefits that CIOs need to consider with the iPhone 5?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Two main benefits (still the same ones)

    The iPhone 5 really just takes the existing iPhone and tweaks it to make it a little faster, a little thinner, integrate more of the latest technologies (LTE, camera, etc.), and expand the screen a little bit so that it’s not completely dwarfed by larger phones with more viewing capabilities. Other than that, the iPhone still has two main benefits over the competition: it’s the easiest phone to use and it has the best apps.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    The software might be more exciting than the hardware

    The biggest benefits of the iPhone 5 for enterprise are 4G and extra battery life. There's plenty of interest in iOS 6, that's not only for the iPhone 5 so even laggards with the iPhone 3GS will be able to get some benefits.

    The big benefits of the iPhone 5 are really the big benefits of the iPhone – the elegant user interface, the incredible variety of apps to increase enterprise productivity. That's why – perhaps – some have seen the iPhone 5 to be underwhelming; as they feel it doesn't really add significantly new functionality. In fact, much of the really exciting stuff is in iOS 6 - could it be that it's the software not the hardware that's the star this time around?

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Windows Phone 8?

    Our initial read on the iPhone 5 was that CIOs are willing to see what the Windows Phone 8 devices can offer. Why do you think CIOs are giving Microsoft a shot?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    It's like Tylenol for CIOs

    CIOs definitely want to give Windows Phone 8 devices a shot. Microsoft is a much more accommodating corporate partner than Apple and if Windows Phone 8 devices integrate with Windows 8 and the existing Microsoft backend services then it will save the IT department a lot of headaches … and resources.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    CIOs hope Microsoft offers benefits at lower risks

    CIOs have billions sunk into Microsoft technologies, whether that's at the desktop, server or elsewhere. The IT department is full of engineers that have spent years earning Microsoft qualifications. The staff in pretty much every business have worked day to day using Microsoft's Office software.

    Bringing iPhones (and iPads, and even Macs) into any enterprise will disrupt all of this, demanding new skills from CIOs, IT and end users. And many CIOs are reluctant to cause this level of upheaval unless they can point to a compelling, clear cut and easily obtainable return on investment.

    So if Microsoft can deliver a great user experience with smartphones and tablets for enterprise, they've got a ready customer in many CIOs. And it's not just institutional inertia (and fear of change) that has CIOs interested in Microsoft – they also want specific enterprise tools rather than something they consider to be repurposed consumer kit. Windows Phone 8 adoption could be the first step.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Microsoft Office?

    Is Microsoft Office a winner for the enterprise if Microsoft can offer a good experience on its tablets and smartphones?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    Could be, but there's also trouble brewing

    Most companies--especially older and larger ones--are still totally dependent on Microsoft Office. Dealing with Office documents on iPhone and Android has developed to the point that it’s tolerable but if Microsoft can make it smoother and easier than that will be an advantage. On the other hand, small businesses and startups are avoiding Office and mostly using Google Apps. For them, Android offers by far the best mobile experience and that’s something Microsoft needs to really keep an eye on.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    Hard to argue

    It's been the standard for so long that it's going to take something pretty special to unseat Microsoft Office. Again, that familiarity is something that has always been a big attraction for CIOs when they look at new form factors like smartphones and tablets.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Integrated solution?

    Apple CEO Tim Cook said the way his company's devices work together create an "integrated solution" for consumers? Does that argument hold for corporations? Why or why not?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    It's mostly the iPhone/iPad story

    I’m not sure there’s much to it for businesses. The only real synergy is between the iPhone and the iPad, which are obviously very similar to use and are both easy to learn. They are also very similar to integrate from an IT standpoint. In many cases, over the past couple years I’ve seen companies that wanted to use the iPad for executives and sales professionals and once they figured out how to make it work on a large scale with their corporate infrastructure then that opened the door for the iPhone.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    There's potential but it's still a minority interest now

    There is the potential for iPad, iPhone and Mac to work together for business, but right now it's only for a minority. These are all big ticket items so the CIO needs a good reason to be able to push through such a hardware refresh, especially when times are tight. Right now Apple hasn’t put very much effort into explaining how a combination of its products can deliver measurable and explicit enterprise value – or at least, not enough effort to change the CIO mindset. Perhaps until now Apple hasn't felt the need to do much explaining as the iPhone and iPad has been pretty much the only game in town. But that may well be less true in future.

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    OK, we have time for one last question....

    Size up the competition for the iPhone 5. What company has the best shot for capturing Apple's enterprise buzz? RIM? Microsoft? Android?

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

    It's definitely Windows Phone 8 in the rearview mirror

    The biggest threat, by far, is Windows Phone 8. A lot of CIOs that we talk to would love to see Windows Phone deliver so that they can make it the corporate standard. As mentioned already, Microsoft is a better corporate partner to work with than Apple and CIOs are expecting that Windows Phone 8 devices are going to have smooth integration with Windows 8 and other Microsoft backend tools and services, which would make IT very happy. The ship has probably sailed for RIM--except in high security environments--and CIOs still worry about Android security enough to not give it as much of a look, other than minimal BYOD support.

    Jason Hiner

    I am for Yes

    Microsoft is the big - but untested - contender

    Right now Microsoft is the big – but very much untested – contender. A combination of Windows 8 Mobile and a successful, well priced, Microsoft Surface, will do much to win CIOs' hearts. Android has a couple of great, breakout products – the Samsung SIII and the Nexus 7 spring to mind – but there isn't a clear joined-up enterprise strategy there. BlackBerry could make a comeback with BlackBerry 10, of course, but Microsoft has the money and the captive audience that makes it the most powerful contendor out there. Equally, plenty of companies have spent a lot of money trying to unseat Apple and none have managed it until now. Still - it seems that the time could be right...

    Steve Ranger

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Great debate, gentlemen!

    Jason and Steve will deliver their closing arguments tomorrow. And look for my final verdict on Thursday.

    Posted by Lawrence Dignan

Closing Statements

Enough to keep the momentum going for now

Jason Hiner

Apple has done just enough to make it impossible for CIOs to completely reject the iPhone. The iPhone in the enterprise has been largely driven by CEOs and BYOD. CIOs have simply had to react to it and make it work in most cases. Some enterprising CIOs have eventually embraced iPhone and iPad as a way for the IT department to look "cutting edge" to users who view these devices as the hot new thing. CIOs have done this even though iOS devices are harder to integrate for IT in many cases--especially compared to BlackBerry.

Apple could certainly do more to support these CIOs and help them make the iPhone more manageable. However, the bottom line is that the iPhone's usability and large catalog of quality apps for professionals are going to make it a mainstay in business for years to come. The iPhone 5's incremental improvements will be enough to keep the momentum going for now.

The iPhone 5 is standing on the shoulders of giants

Steve Ranger

The iPhone: a device so gorgeous, so glamorous and so useful that no CIO could bar the door to it. It’s the device that kicked off the bring-your-own-device frenzy and forced CIOs to rethink their attitude towards Apple, and their device strategy in general.

It’s hard to underplay the impact of the iPhone –- the aftershocks are still being felt, five years after it was launched. Without the iPhone, there would be no iPad.

And yet –- none of this means that the iPhone 5 is especially significant in itself. It’s merely standing on the shoulders of giants.

Sure, there are some modest improvements, but this model is unlucky enough to arrive at a time when the iPhone’s supremacy is being challenged. Android and Windows Phone 8 handsets are arriving that are as good as the iPhone -- and better in some aspects. The iPhone’s place in tech history is secure, but the iPhone 5 is really only a footnote.

CIOs have bet on Microsoft infrastructure

Lawrence Dignan

Steve Ranger won this debate largely by noting that CIOs have bet on Microsoft infrastructure and will connect the dots if given a good path. Companies will still have the iPhone 5 in their infrastructure courtesy of BYOD, but there are more options. The iPhone 5 will matter to CIOs, but the response will be more measured this time around.

Topics: Great Debate

About

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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