iPhone: Coming to a corporation near you?

iPhone: Coming to a corporation near you?

Summary: Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer says the iPhone can be a hit for business customers with "a very little bit of help from the corporate IT department."That statement made on Apple's third quarter earnings call was notable on a few counts.

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TOPICS: iPhone, Mobility
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Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer says the iPhone can be a hit for business customers with "a very little bit of help from the corporate IT department."

That statement made on Apple's third quarter earnings call was notable on a few counts. First, Apple's iPhone is clearly positioned as a consumer device, but the company realizes it needs corporate customers. Second, Apple is looking for a little help from IT managers to get the corporate messaging ball rolling with the iPhone.

The big question is whether corporations will play along. They will if enough employees and CEOs bring the iPhone into the workplace. But Apple is likely to need more than the 1 million iPhones sold by the end of the September quarter. Apple reported stellar earnings on Wednesday largely fueled by Mac sales (see Techmeme roundup).

Before going over what needs to fall into place here's Oppenheimer's complete statement on the conference call:

In terms of the corporate market, we think the iPhone is a breakthrough product for all customers, including business customers. It’s a great Internet device that includes the best email client out there with the best web-browser ever on a mobile device. With a very little bit of help from the corporate IT department, it can be set up to work with corporate email. We already have a number of corporate customers that are piloting the iPhone in their enterprises and they have told us that they are very happy with the results so far.

It's currently unclear who is conducting iPhone pilots and how big these tests are, but the point is notable. Here's what needs to fall into place to make the iPhone a corporate reality--and a Blackberry killer.

  • A little messaging would help--and we're not talking about email just yet. AT&T notes that the iPhone is a consumer device. The implicit message: companies need not apply.
  • No corporate accounts. Everything related to the iPhone is personal--iTunes, data plan etc. That means employees would wind up expensing each employee if it supported the iPhone. That's a headache.
  • The iPhone SIM card doesn't appear to be replaceable, which means it's difficult to swap an iPhone into an existing corporate account.
  • No discounts and no pooled minutes. When you're talking corporate accounts and devices volume matters. If the iPhone sticks with its current price and every plan is individual it won't be cost effective for companies to bother. Let's say you are outfitting 200 employees with mobile devices. You get 200 Blackberries at an average of $200 ($40,000). The iPhone is at $499 ($99,800). That's real money. This pricing could change with an iPhone corporate phone, which may be in the works at some point.
  • AT&T's EDGE network is pokey for swapping PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets and other corporate mumbo jumbo. And the iPhone doesn't allow you to edit these corporate documents.
  • And the real killer. Email, calendaring and contacts are an issue--unless you're using a software as a service app where the iPhone is a real enabler. The iPhone needs to support Good Mobile Messaging and Microsoft ActiveSync. There may be some deal with ActiveSync, but it's a bit fuzzy.

These are just some of the issues Apple says that IT departments should offer a little bit of help. The rub: IT departments are strapped and unless every C-level executive has an iPhone and is screaming I doubt Apple is going to get the help it's looking for.

In the end, the iPhone will get some corporate support--because the CEO has one. But Apple will have to meet IT departments half way on some things.

End note: If you're one of these companies piloting the iPhone and offering Apple a little bit of IT elbow grease I'd love to hear how the experiments are going.

Topics: iPhone, Mobility

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38 comments
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  • Apparently the major corporations do not agree with Apple...

    [url=CIOs pooh-pooh the iPhone]http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/24/cios_badmouth_iphone/[/url]

    [i]Four out for four CIOs agree: the iPhone is no match for the Blackberry. Last night, at an event hosted by Silicon Valley's tech-happy Churchill Club, four high-profile CIOs - representing Google, Hasbro, Levi Strauss, and health care giant McKesson Corp - were asked if they'd carry an iPhone for business purposes, and all four said "No."

    Meanwhile, three of the four said they won't let their employees carry Apple's latest status symbol - at least, not in an official business capacity.

    The lone dissenter was Google vice president of engineering Douglas Merrill, who likes to play up the company's anything-goes attitude. "People come to me everyday and say 'Can I have an iPhone,'" he said. "My answer is 'Yes - if you give me back your Blackberry.' If they're willing to make that sacrifice, so be it."[/i]

    Looks like big business isn't so easily taken in by the RDF.
    Scrat
    • Incorrect link

      [url=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/24/cios_badmouth_iphone/]CIOs pooh-pooh the iPhone[/url]
      Scrat
    • Empty talk.

      When the CEO gets an iPhone, what the CIO whines about becomes meaningless.
      frgough
      • Not a wholesale adoption...

        The CEO gets a workaround and some hand-holding to make his device usable. Apple doesn't understand the enterprise nor the level of security required on a mobile computer. The private exchanges at a CEO level are extrememly valuable to the company, and even the CEO can understand that.

        We can manage security on a Blackberry and Windows Mobile (enforced policy). The iPhone isn't even close.
        Uber Dweeb
        • Give me a break.

          managing security on a cell phone? Please. Stop already with the technobabble buzzwords. Everyone with half a brain knows when vapid IT types talk about managing security on a cell phone they're talking about email and Exchange.

          The last time I checked, WM6 devices don't have restricted accounts and IT enforced passwords and logins to the device.

          You're just annoyed because that $600 WM phone you bought looks like a piece of junk now.
          frgough
          • lol

            [i]You're just annoyed because that $600 WM phone you bought looks like a piece of junk now.[/i]

            pfft.. only a crazy person would pay $600.00 for a phone. You're just yanking our chains now.
            Badgered
          • Oh dear, you really don't have a clue do you frgough

            do you actually know what capabilities a smartphone has?

            This is just an excerpt of the capabilities of WM6:
            [i]"...Windows Mobile helps prevent unauthorized access to the device itself through PIN authentification and password protection, device timeout locking, and the ability to "wipe" or erase the device’s memory either locally or remotely if it is lost or stolen. Data encryption of the communication channel and removable storage is supported. Preventing unauthorized applications such as viruses or spyware from being installed or accessing critical parts of the device is also essential. Management role definition, application access tiers, code signing settings, security settings, and security certificates combine to help achieve device-level protection."[/i]

            iPhone is a toy, and an expensive one at that. True, bald-headed graphic designers who are still trying to be "hip" at 40+ might think the iPhone is a smartphone, but the rest of us who don't live in cuckooland know different ;-)

            I'm glad you Apple folks are around to give me such a laugh!

            Next time frgough, before trolling cluelessly, try doing a little research first. I suggest you try reading [url=http://www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/07/Mobile/]here[/url] about WM6 before making ill-informed rants about it.
            Scrat
          • Precisely.

            Because some of us have had the Corporate General Council, Senior Executives, or Principal Engineers lose laptops with very sensitive data in airports, etc. Smart Phones are even easier to lose, almost to the point of being 'disposable'. If you can't protect the data, you're not playing in the corporate world.
            Uber Dweeb
          • Blah, Blah, Blah...

            "...Windows Mobile helps prevent unauthorized access to the device itself through
            PIN authentification and password protection, device timeout locking, and the
            ability to "wipe" or erase the device?s memory either locally or remotely if it is lost
            or stolen. Data encryption of the communication channel and removable storage is
            supported. Preventing unauthorized applications such as viruses or spyware from
            being installed or accessing critical parts of the device is also essential.
            Management role definition, application access tiers, code signing settings, security
            settings, and security certificates combine to help achieve device-level protection."

            And what part of that can Apple not deliver if they choose to? Now Apple may not
            bother to do it, don't get me wrong.

            If Apple can sell quantities of iPhones that vastly dwarf the number of blackberries,
            Treos, etc., then why would they give a damn if some uptight IT guy refuses to let
            people use iPhones on their corporate network?

            Of course the answer is: they wouldn't and they don't.

            Of course, they don't care a bit
            mattjumbo
          • When Apple "choose" to implement these features...

            we won't be talking about iPhone 1.0, will we ;-)

            Do you think Apple doesn't want to play in the corporate smartphone market then? Considering corporate users vastly outnumber consumer users of smartphones, I would imagine Apple would be VERY interested in that market.

            Regardless of how many iPhones Apple sell as fashion toys, it is the business market they need to crack before anyone takes the iPhone seriously as a smartphone.

            Of course, until they actually make the think INTO a smartphone, this point is moot.
            Scrat
          • It's been my experience that IT guys and whole departments

            don't get to "tell" the user much but are often "told" by the users or their supervisors
            what to do. The only case that might work in an IT guys favor is if it simply can't be
            done and in the case of the iPhone it can be done!

            Pagan jim
            Laff
          • That's your's and NonZ's problem Scrat...

            You guys keep using the same ole same ole formular for the A typical "Smart
            Phone" thinking that Apple is not trying to create a new formular and since you
            think that way you see the ole formular as the ONLY possible way to go and well
            frankly it's not. Granted at this time the majority of so called smart phone users
            and the buisness type but does that mean it will always be so and or that is should
            be so? Why can't apple make a push into the consumer smart phone arena or
            create it? Also there is not reason Apple can't still try to connect with the buiness
            user as well but it's obvious to the likes of me at least that that is not where they
            are pushing as of now.

            Pagan jim
            Laff
          • Windows. Microsoft. Enough said.

            I do have a BlackBerry Pearl phone I am happy with but will buy the 2nd gen iPhone. I will NEVER purchase another Microsoft product again - or any product that offers even a penny of profit to Microsoft.

            You need to get over it. Millions of people wouldn't touch MS with a hundred foot pole.
            nomorems
  • Security reigns here

    Our CEO understands that security id first and foremost in our business, and therefore will take the direction from IT.

    Our stance is no SSL, no access.

    Activesync is acceptable, blakberry email is acceptable, IMAP is not.
    Joe_Racer
    • Right

      because everyone knows you can't require SSL over IMAP....
      frgough
    • no camera either

      I work for a fortune 500 company and there is no way they will let their employees have a camera on any phone. If Apple comes out with an iPhone without a camera then there might be a chance.
      blackRiver
  • I'm quite disappointed with ZDNet

    No negative spin on Apple's quarterly earnings report yesterday. Wait! There's no mention of these impressive numbers at all. Ok, I guess I can find some forgiveness in my heart, negative spin by ommission-I see the plan.
    Paco20
    • Open Wide

      http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=727
      Badgered
  • iPhone is a consumer play

    Your comments
    "First, Apple?s iPhone is clearly positioned as a consumer device, but the company realizes it needs corporate customers."

    Actually - no. Apple does not "need" corporate customers. As you point out later - the model from purchase to updates is not corporate focused. I think this is more of a "do not be afraid padiwan this purchase will not always be outside the force" of the corporate world. So are you implying only if accepted by corporations can it be successful or it "fails" as it does not meet all the needs? Does Apple need corporate customers for the iPod as well or it is a failure - I mean it only grew in sales 22% last quarter so it must be a failure? No - but Apple would not stop corporations from doing purchasing iPods (like training departments, etc)and encourage them to fit it in as they wish.

    iPhone will not need to be in the corporation to be successful, but it will not always ignore the market either. No FUD here - the success will be known as the sales quarter info is provided not that the iPhone does or does not do one or two or three things well/poor.
    Jim888
  • My concern with Apple and Enterprise

    "Meeting Halfway" is a lofty goal, and quite an audacious hope to expect Apple to ever do that. Apple is known for dictating what users want and somehow, users say Apple is right. That blind faith won't hold water in the corporate world.

    Is Apple ready to kowtow to the needs of the corporate world or are they going to tell the corporate world "This is how you want it done!"
    yyuko9