If Apple can't stream an iPhone 6 event, is there really an enterprise story?

Only a week after a public relations fiasco involving high-profile iCloud account breaches, Cupertino fails to reliably stream their iPhone 6 and Apple Watch event. This begs the question: can Apple be trusted to do anything enterprise-grade at all?
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

Today, we were shown new iPhones. Big, new iPhones. And we got a sneak preview of the Apple Watch, which is coming out early next year.

That is, of course, if the "we" is defined as the privileged few that were invited to the event and got to see it live and in person. The rest of us that were not so lucky? There was the live stream of the event on the Apple homepage.

"If there is to be an enterprise play for Apple, it will only be if their much more competent developer partners and the enterprise itself is confident in the security of the devices, and if the applications running on the devices do not originate from Cupertino."

Let's just say that part didn't go off very smoothly. 

There's going to be — and there has been — a lot of analysis regarding the devices themselves.

But so far I've seen very little written about how Apple handled the live stream event, which was a complete fail. For many of us, the stream would simply refuse to play, or re-start from the beginning unpredictably.

Since last year, the company has been hard at work building its own, internal content distribution network, and as of early summer it has been cutting over to it.

However, for this particular event, the company chose to stick with Akamai, its traditional content distribution partner.

But due to changes from the way the embedded player was coded on the Apple homepage in previous live stream events, in conjunction with how storage was set up at Amazon's S3, among other implementation problems, it resulted in a perfect storm of issues and a failure to execute a highly-anticipated live stream event.

Dan Rayburn, who authors the NYC-based Streaming Media Blog sums it up thusly:

"The bottom line with this event is that the encoding, translation, JavaScript code, the video player, the call to S3 single storage location and the millisecond refreshes all didn’t work properly together and was the root cause of Apple’s failed attempt to make the live stream work without any problems. So while it would be easy to say it was a CDN capacity issue, which was my initial thought considering how many events are taking place today and this week, it does not appear that a lack of capacity played any part in the event not working properly. Apple simply didn’t provision and plan for the event properly."

This comes at the heels of a horrible week for the Cupertino-based consumer electronics manufacturer, that can only be regarded as a total PR disaster for iCloud.

Although iCloud's security architecture and the clear fail of their live-stream event are not related and obviously did not live on the same infrastructure, it's clearly evident that perception-wise, the idea of Apple doing anything that could be remotely considered enterprise-grade is laughable.

Unfortunately for this industry, in the eyes of the consumer and for any company's customers, perception is reality, regardless of the technical details. 

It doesn't help that that IBM, Apple's key enterprise partner was a no-show at the event, either. I think many of us would have liked to have seen the big, beautiful iPhone 6 Plus with its huge 5.5-inch screen showing some really compelling enterprise apps on it, such as data visualization.

Perhaps we could have seen Watson doing something sexy such as a natural language query against an expert database, using the Apple Watch.

But Big Blue's mobile apps were nowhere to be found. 

I am sure there are a lot of heads rolling internally for both the iCloud fiasco and for today's streaming mess. If Steve Jobs were alive today, he probably would have executed half of his staff by now.

In the case of the iCloud account hacks, the company had to issue a statement to immediately address potential brand damage. However, as to the stream failure, Apple is likely to just pretend that it did not happen, as that would be par for the course for the company, which has not learned from its mistakes in streaming previous events and avoids acknowledging them, according to Rayburn, who I spoke to this evening on the matter. 

This begs the question — can the company and its products be trusted to be used with anything enterprise-related at all? If they aren't addressing security issues in iCloud properly, and they can't learn from previous mistakes made in their streaming events, then is even iOS, the Mac or the company's own apps such as iWork suitable for enterprise use?

What else are they neglecting?

Let's be crystal clear here. I use and own Apple's products — I have two Mac Minis and an iPad Air. I also own two Apple TVs, and I probably will end up buying an iPhone 6 Plus for my own personal use as I do enjoy using their platform and also because I cover this industry.

But based on the events of the last two weeks, I'm certainly not confident that the company knows how to run an enterprise-grade cloud, and by association I'm not confident that any applications the company develops should be used in the enterprise either.

And despite the existence of good MDM products for use with iOS, no way am I going to enroll that new iPhone 6 Plus for use with my enterprise's intranet and corporate messaging system.

If that sounds unfair and biased to you, perhaps it is. But as I said, perception is reality, and I'm fairly sure many similar thoughts are flowing through the minds of plenty of C-seats at large corporations today.

If there is to be an enterprise play for Apple, it will only be if their much more competent developer partners, and the enterprise itself, are confident in the security of the devices, and if the applications running on the devices do not originate from Cupertino. 

If Apple succeeds in the enterprise, it will be only because we choose to enable them to, along with a considerable leap of faith.

Has Apple demonstrated they are incapable of doing anything enterprise-worthy on their own? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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