Five Enterprise & Developer Implications of iPhone 4S, iOS 5, Siri

Five Enterprise & Developer Implications of iPhone 4S, iOS 5, Siri

Summary: Apple is a consumer company but its reach is so large that there are always implications for big businesses and developers.


As the headline promises a listicle, let's just get to it, shall we?

1) Dual-band GSM and CDMA in iPhone 4S. A long-requested feature from an influential, vocal minority: rambling, travelin' business-types. Now they have a true 'world phone' that makes it easy for them to roam overseas, and drop that aging BlackBerry 8830 for good.

Enterprise implication: For non-managed or weakly-managed phones, data roaming is dangerous. Your CEO or biz dev exec could come back from a long trip with a multi-thousand dollar surprise. Especially now that the iPhone 4 S's data transfer speed doubles to 14.4 Mbps (downstream).

Managing your employee roaming via a true Mobile Device Management (MDM) software like - egregious plug! - Sybase Afaria, becomes even more vital.

2) Three Tiers of iPhone. Til now, Apple only actively sold two iPhones at any given time. Now it's going after the mass market by 1) introducing the iPhone 4S; 2) ramping up shipments of the iPhone 3GS by making it free (with carrier contract), rather than cutting it, as it would have done in previous upgrade cycles.

Enterprise and Developer Implication: Apple says the iPhone 3GS will run the new iOS 5. But how well? If poorly, then many consumers and enterprises may stay, at least in part, on iOS 4. It may not be at the state of Android, but this does increase, ugh, fragmentation. That means headaches and rewrites for IT managers and developers.

3) Sprint gets the iPhone. It looks like America's No. 3 carrier just committed to paying $20 billion to share a phone with AT&T and Verizon, with no exclusive or early access to a 4G-based iPhone 5. I guess this is the best deal Dan Hesse could get from Cupertino.

Enterprise implication: Sprint is expected to offer unlimited data plans for its iPhone subscribers. For businesses seeking cost predictability and bandwidth buffets, Sprint becomes very tempting, I would think.

4) iOS 5 debuts.

Enterprise Implications: I covered this when iOS 5 was first announced at WWDC in June, but here's the rundown again:

- iMessage communications service, aka BlackBerry Messenger killer, that creates a potential new security hole for IT managers to plug with the right MDM software.

- iCloud backup, which is useful for small businesses with no other layer of data protection, but could contravene industry regulations or data privacy laws.

- Over-the-air activation, which greatly simplifies iPhone and iPad deployment for IT managers.

5) Siri voice controls debut. Star Trek teaches us that voice interface is an important feature. But it has almost always failed the real-world test. The voice-recognition software gets confused by a speaker's accent, or mishears words because of background noise. Because of Apple's push for quality, I have some faith that Siri will work well, but I want to, um, hear more.

Developer implication: Apparently, none yet. That's because Siri for now appears only to work with iOS's built-in apps like the SMS, calendar, 'Find My Friends' etc.  Apple doesn't appear to have announced an SDK for third-party developers to create their own apps leveraging Siri.

Topics: ÜberTech, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Operating Systems, Smartphones, Telcos

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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