I got a fairly lukewarm response to my excitement over Oracle putting applications on the iPhone. That should be no surprise to readers of Fortune which also poured cold water on the idea that iPhone's are going to be the next big thing in corporate gadgets:
Companies in highly visual industries like insurance and media might take a chance on the iPhone early. But others will hang back to see whether they can get by with phones from companies whose products and customer service they're used to working with already.
CIO Weblog riffed on this arguing that:
The avenue left appears to be the one that Apple is taking, which is to rely on guerilla adoption of the devices at all levels, and then to allow internal pressures to force corporate IT to integrate the devices. This is sure to raise hackles among CIOs who pride themselves on maintaining security, interoperability, and budgets, and probably won't do Apple any favors in the long term... they may sell a few more iPhones, but they won't be disposing anyone to buy their desktop or server products. CIOs don't like having technology forced down their throats, particularly not by end users more concerned with being trendy than standardized.
Elsewhere, Antony Savvas at ComputerWeekly quoted Madan Sheina, an Ovum analyst:
Ovum said Oracle was banking on a high uptake of the iPhone in business to take a sizeable slice of the mobile BI market. But, Sheina said, "We believe that the iPhone will struggle to break into the business mainstream. One barrier is that all management of the device is done through an iTunes-like store and it's hard to see corporate IT departments rushing to support that on corporate laptops."
That may be true but will this stop users? More important, does what the CIO might have to say matter that much? Controlling communications costs is a top priority as companies like AT&T try to wring fresh dollars out of users when new services are introduced. But it's really hard to stop users from doing what they want to do.
At a recent Nanomonk event, the topic of browser based and rich internet applications came up for discussion among SAP and Adobe developers. Craig Cmehil, who shot the video said that despite attempts by IT shops to shut down desktops, everyone's storing bookmarks, data, photos and whatnot on their local machines. Since those same machines need re-imaging from time to time, everything has to be recreated. Or rather it did until we discovered services like Flickr and del.icio.us.
What's needed is synchronization between the Internet cloud and local machines but as Craig said: "IT shops are not ready for that." They may not be ready but users have an uncanny knack of figuring ways around problems or constraints they see as unreasonable. That may be exactly what Apple is hoping for. A replay of earlier times when PCs were a novelty and later still when things like email were looked upon with fear. Sometimes it seems like IT history has a great way of (nearly) repeating itself. Whether this translates to pay dirt for Apple with the iPhone as the Trojan Horse has yet to play out. Given Apple's ability to deliver a great user experience, something Adobe Flex is endeavouring to emulate, nothing should be taken for granted.
Note: the conversation on this topic in the video, which includes an observation from Chris Dalby that Microsoft MVP's are clamoring for MacBook Pros, starts at around 43 minutes.