Apple iPhone -- a headache for IT?

Put your hands up if you want one of those sleek, sexy iPhones...
Written by Scott Mckenzie, Contributor

commentary Put your hands up if you want one of those sleek, sexy iPhones that Apple supremo Steve Jobs announced at Macworld Expo 2007. I know I do -- and I have just seen (or is that drooled over?) the device, like millions of others, on the Internet.

I've already started saving for the smartphone -- it's expected to hit these shores in 2008 -- as it will no doubt be quite expensive given the US pricing of $599 for an 8GB version. The 4GB version comes in at just US$100 less.

Scott Mckenzie, News Editor

And I'm not the only one likely to splash out on Apple's latest gadget. According to industry analyst Ovum the iPhone was responsible for generating more Internet column space than any other product launch, which is no surprise.

Like its elder brethren, the iPod, the new iPhone is a beauty to behold. Could Apple's designers come up with anything less?

But it's not all about aesthetics, there's quite a lot to like under the hood as well. Users can listen to music, make phone calls, send text messages and e-mail, surf the Web, and take and upload photos, all using the wide touchscreen and a single button.

The iPhone boasts a 2-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi capability, as well as incorporating Google's search and mapping services and Mac's operating system OS 10 -- a stripped down version of OS X.

It could be argued that iPhone heralds the real age of convergence which the industry has been talking up for many years. This is one device which truly does do everything, and it's good looking as well.

So while many of us -- this writer included -- eagerly await the arrival of Apple's entry into the smartphone market on these shores, there are some that may be relieved that its due date is at least a year away.

For IT managers and chiefs of security at the very least, the iPhone represents another headache -- and one that is not likely to go away for some time.

The problem is every consumer that lays down their hard earned cash on the smartphone is going to want to use it for work. "With all these whiz bang features surely I can get my work e-mails, and connect to the applications I need," is likely to be the common refrain.

Unfortunately, this opens the door to a whole host of nightmares for a firm's security and network experts.

True, it can be done. Just look at the success to date of the BlackBerry and push e-mail with both office bound and mobile workers -- a success which is likely to take a hit once the iPhone has been released globally.

The reality is, as with the BlackBerry, that access to the network and the various back-end applications has to be tightly controlled by the IT department. It can mean a lot of extra work for an already overloaded IT team.

Also, with OS 10 making a bigger foray into the enterprise arena via the iPhone you have to wonder what malware authors might have in mind.

To top it off the IT department has to worry about clumsy or forgetful mobile workers who may be more inclined to leave or misplace a phone in a cab or office, for example, than a laptop.

Yet, this writer doubts that the headache (or challenge) for IT departments will stop the iPhone becoming ubiquitous in enterprises of all sizes.

Will you buy the iPhone when it hits Australian shores? Are you a BlackBerry user? Do you think the iPhone will prove a headache for IT departments? E-mail me at scott.mckenzie@zdnet.com.au and give me your feedback.

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