Apple has dropped some serious hints that its iPhone strategy will at least be tweaked--mostly in ways that will court business users.
First up, Apple has sent invitations for the launch of the iPhone SDK next week and as David Morgenstern notes the device will have "some exciting new enterprise features." Meanwhile, Tim Cook presented at the Goldman Sachs technology conference (Techmeme and replay) on Wednesday where he noted the following points:
Those items coupled with the actual details of the iPhone SDK next week add up to one word: Business.
If iPhone is going to get to 10 million units it needs to at least allay enterprise worries by hooking into Microsoft Exchange easily and providing other features that IT managers want. Let's face it; enterprises will have to deal with the iPhone because their C-level execs already have one. Meanwhile, employees with iPhones are bringing them to work. IT managers need some sort of iPhone plan. All Apple has to do is meet companies half way and the iPhone won't be outright banned.
And Cook's comments about being wedded to AT&T--a model he maintains made sense for the launch--also point to more business adopters in the future. Why? Not every company has AT&T as a provider. If an iPhone could work with whatever carrier a company chooses it's much more likely to be accepted. Part of the reason the BlackBerry works is that it plays well with any carrier a company may have.
If this works out for Apple the company could find itself in a business sweet spot with the iPhone. As software as a service (SaaS) takes hold the iPhone looks pretty damn useful because of its ease of browsing. Simply put, Salesforce.com just operates better on an iPhone. It's just like you get on the PC.
Cook also noted that there are more than 1,000 Web 2.0 apps for the iPhone. As Web 2.0 morphs into enterprise 2.0 the iPhone becomes more of an option. "Putting the SDK out will broaden the apps even more," said Cook.
And if we were to get completely ahead of ourselves you could argue that the iPhone is the most likely way to get its platform into corporate infrastructure. One of Cook's big points was that there is synergy with having the Mac OS in multiple places--Mac, iPhone, iPod. He reiterated that Apple is a platform company as well as a product one.
"I think it's important that very few companies in the world know how to build a platform. We have had the Mac platform for years. When we started with the phone we focused on getting developers to deliver Web 2.0 apps. But people also want to do more with that. In essence, the SDK will make the product more compelling," said Cook.
Reading between the lines you could argue that the iPhone is Apple's Trojan horse into the enterprise. Let's say IT execs discover the iPhone can integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructure. These execs are more likely to consider Macs in the future.
Other odds and ends, which addressed Wall Street's angst: