HSBC could order 200,000 iPhones

HSBC could order 200,000 iPhones

Summary: Global banking giant HSBC is considering ditching the BlackBerry and adopting Apple's iPhone as its standard staff mobile device, a move that could result in an order for some 200,000 iPhones.


update Global banking giant HSBC is considering ditching the BlackBerry and adopting Apple's iPhone as its standard staff mobile device, a move that could result in an order for some 200,000 iPhones.

"We are actually reviewing iPhones from a HSBC Group perspective ... and when I say that, I mean globally," HSBC's Australia and New Zealand chief information officer Brenton Hush told yesterday.


HSBC A/NZ CIO Brenton Hush

HSBC has some 300,000 staff internationally. A decision to standardise on the iPhone on its corporate networks would likely lead to one of the world's largest iPhone orders.

"A decision on a piece of hardware like that would potentially be deployed, conservatively, to 200,000 people," said Hush. "You know, it's a big decision, especially when you have an existing fleet out there."

"But it's definitely something we are considering from a HSBC Group perspective," he said. "We always explore the potential application of new technologies and this is no different."

Should HSBC select the iPhone as its official corporate mobile device, the decision would be a major blow to Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, which is HSBC's current standard staff mobile.

Most corporations passed on the iPhone when it was first released, due to limited availability and the device's lack of support for Microsoft's Exchange email platform. However, Apple has rectified both issues, and has additionally built a number of tools into the new iPhone 3G specifically targeted at corporate use.

Hush was recently elevated from an internal position to the rank of chief information officer of the local arm of HSBC.

HSBC's Australian presence is small compared to major Australian banks, but its global operations have a US$6 billion annual technology budget and a technology team of 30,000 supporting 300,000 employees.

Hush said he did not own an iPhone, however added, "I have obviously had hands on experience with them."

Heads of technology of other large organisations were cautious about the idea of standardising the iPhone for corporate network access at the time of its launch.

While one of Australia's big four banks, CommBank, today flagged its iPhone trading application as part of its $523 million growth strategy for the year, chief information officer Michael Harte recently expressed caution about the phone's introduction into its own networks.

Steven Bandrowczak, global CIO of Nortel, which has 30,000 staff, said he doubted whether his staff would choose the iPhone over its current device, the BlackBerry due to the latter device's superior email functionality.

However, Hush's opinion differed on this matter. asked Hush whether he thought the BlackBerry had any advantage over the iPhone.

"No, I don't. I think [the iPhone] would change some underlying infrastructure considerations from an enterprise perspective. But [Apple] have been pretty smart with the design."

No time frame has been given for a decision on the iPhone move, with Hush adding that for his position located in Australia, the iPhone was a low-ranking priority at this stage.

The CIO, whose office is located at HSBC's Sydney headquarters on George Street, Sydney is just 500 metres away from Apple's new Sydney store, but he said he had not entered due to persistent queues.

"I'm blown away every time I walk past that Apple store, and there's always people queued up outside to get in," he said. "I haven't been in there. It's always too busy."

Topics: BlackBerry, Apple, Banking, CXO, iPhone, Mobility

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • HSBC iPhone

    He won't be CIO for long if they make the switch.
  • Giving CIOs a bad name

    This guy admits he
    a.) doesn't own an iPhone
    b.) hasn't even been in an Apple store

    Yet he has "hands on experience". Try using an iPhone for longer than 30 seconds. You don't switch over 300,000 employees on a new platform without deploying it to a small group first, then getting feedback from that group.

    How he was promoted, is beyond me.
  • LOL

    At what point did he say he was going to deploy to 300k people without running a pilot program? Geez I bet he never thought of that. Come on.

    Yeah you guys are smarter than the CIO of the worlds largest company. Uh-huh.
  • Quick, send your best wintards

    There should be alarm bells going off at ZDNet headquarters. Send some of your best wintards, George Oui, etc... (some of the posters above?) and try to talk the bank out of this move. Hurry, if the employees actually get a decent smart phone, they surely won't want their lame blackberries back!

    What will become of windoze mobile! Oh, the humanity!
  • Right...

    they will promote him to CEO.
  • BB Discount

    Maybe he is just trying to prod RIM to give his company a better deal on BB's?
  • CIO Gets the "I am Rich" Application

    This guy must have been one of the "I am Rich" application consumers!

    No reasonably knowledgeable CIO, in his right mind, would consider deploying the Iphone as a functional and secure alternative to the BlackBerry.

    The options to secure and manage an Iphone over Active Synch pales in comparison to the ability to do so with a BlackBerry device, in the right environment. Not to mention that the Apple Iphone firmware was hacked BEFORE the phone was even released.

    Anyone who has used both Active Synch enabled devices and BlackBerry devices can agree that no Active synch phone on this planet compares to the ease-of-use when it comes to email on the BlackBerry.
  • The iPhone is better than any Blackberry...

    -The OS is richer and easier to develop for with much better development tools.

    -The UI is much easier for users to work with.

    -iPhone communication is very secure. All communications are encrypted.

    iPhone has an inviting UI and development tools for enterprises to write custom apps. Most enterprises do not write custom software for the Blackberry because it is not worth it. Weak UI and Development tools ruin the experience.

    It's just a matter of time before most large corps who wish to write custom mobile apps to switch to the iPhone.
  • Um...

    I've used both the BlackBerry and the iPhone for push email, and the iPhone is far superior in every way. The DingleBerry is lame compared to an iPhone, and I much prefer looking at my email and the web as it looks on my computer rather than the version I'm stuck with on the 'Berry. I long for the day that corporations start moving in this direction. In the meantime I'm stuck with a dumb phone.
  • Not "hacked" the way you imply...

    The iPhone firmware "hack" requires physical device access. It's as much a hack as installing a new OS on your computer. It does not present any sort of remote security threat.

    Can you perhaps be a bit more specific about which management features you feel the iPhone is lacking?

    Also, just FYI, it's "ActiveSync", one word, no 'h'. And, the i in iPhone is not capitalized.

    I'm also wondering why you seem to be conflating ease of use with OTA protocols. The iPhone can use ActiveSync as well as IMAP and POP. It provides the same UI for all three. Talking about the iPhone and Windows Mobile as if they provide the same ease of use because they use the same protocols is rather ridiculous.
  • One Way...

    Please name just ONE way that ActiveSync is better than a BES Connected BlackBerry?
  • Yes, HACKED.

    the Iphone (or iPhone as it were) was compromised via a firmware hack. In the hands of an end-user the device poses a huge security risk. You CANNOT re-install an OS on a BlackBerry AND remove the IT policy. The device remains secure.
  • What?

    There are no "Deployment tools" for iPhone.
  • Wake me up when the iPhone can make phone calls.

    Everybody is "evaluating" new tech, especially those CIOs and such.

    He'll find out what the pathetic iPhone is capable of, or rather, not capable of once he tests it more thoroughly. LOL.

    Soon enough he'll see it as a nightmare if he finds those 200000 banking pros struggling to make calls and sending data on that low security grade toy.
  • Typical

    Wow. That's new. A Mactard that make fun of Wintards. Don't you realize that you Mactard and the Wintards are the same, except that the former has an inferiority complex while the latter a superiority complex?
  • ...when

    the bank is in so much trouble that no one wants the job anymore.
  • Wait for the ZunePhone people!

    There I said it!
  • Not ready to replace BB yet

    I have an iPhone, I had a BB, and WinMo device. The iPhone is a better phone then any BB and does a great job browsing the web and with multimedia BUT it does NOT compare when it comes to email, calendar and contacts.

    I love my iPhone, and i like it better then any BB or WinMo device I have ever owned, but the implementation of email, contacts and calendar is poor at best.

    1. Can't dial a number from Calendar, so if you get a con call invite, you have to write the number down to dial it

    2. Email is missing to many features to count, but much easier to read then any BB.

    3. Contacts - no support for categories, can't display by company name, can't copy from Global address book to local

    4. batter life - BB has everyone beat hands down.

    Again, I love the iPhone and it will get better, but I have never heard of any major corp being a first adopter like this... This is a recipe for disaster.
  • Mac to Win so Why not WinMob to Iphone?

    Mac to Win so Why not WinMob to Iphone?
  • I think there is.

    Is this what you were looking for?

    An excerpt from

    Enterprise applications.
    With support for custom-designed enterprise applications, iPhone becomes a must-have mobile device for businesses. Using the iPhone SDK, an enterprise can easily create applications customized to its business needs and even take advantage of key iPhone technologies such as Multi-Touch, the accelerometer, fast wireless connectivity, and GPS. To deploy their in-house applications, companies can securely sync the applications via iTunes to authorized iPhones. Once installed, enterprise applications live side by side with all the other applications that come with every iPhone.