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3G iPhone: On its way to Aussie SMEs

Despite the introduction of a range of enterprise-friendly features, don't expect the 3G iPhone to be welcomed with open arms in your office — unless you're a SME.
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Written by Marcus Browne on

Despite the introduction of a range of enterprise-friendly features, don't expect the 3G iPhone to be welcomed with open arms in your office — unless you're a SME.

After Apple unveiled the device, both of its iPhone carriers, Optus and Vodafone, confirmed an 11 July release date and the availability of the phone to both pre- and post-paid customers.

"As has occurred since the launch of iPhone, specific users will want to use their iPhone for work activities but we see it unlikely that enterprise will migrate to them company wide," said Nathan Burley, analyst at research firm Ovum.

"It looks as though it's got support for a number of basic functions that mainly SMEs would be after, like push email, contact synching and basic security ... it seems to be targeted at the markets Apple already has a presence in like SMEs, creative and design departments and some areas of government," he said.

Most of the "basic" support comes via Apple's MobileMe, a Web application available to subscribers offering push email, contact synching and a detailed calendar.

"It seems to be Exchange for people who don't want to support exchange," said Burley today. "But it still definitely sits in that high-end consumer and SME space, there might be some corporates who like it and ask their IT guys to set it up to mimic some Blackberry functionality ... that's how I see it penetrating the corporate space."

According to Burley, the high level security provided by RIM and BlackBerry represent a major point of difference for corporate users, and forms a good part of the reasoning for staying with those devices.

While an enterprise-specific iPhone doesn't appear to be on its way, Robin Simpson, research director at analyst firm Gartner, believes that Apple's business model for its iPod music player could prove an accurate guide to how the company directs future iPhone releases.

"The interesting thing is that they've left a gap in the top end of the market," he said. "I think they'll follow the iPod strategy and tailor a number of different iPhones for various uses eventually."

Ovum's Burley also claimed that a growing level of convergence between consumer and enterprise needs may eliminate such clear delineations in the near future.

"You're finding a lot of executives who are after stronger multimedia and video functionality with their devices, at the same time there are consumers who are after things like push email and better security ... but this is only the first release, it's hard to say when something like BlackBerry has had a chance to prove its reliability," he said.

While the spotlight has switched to the iPhone's global release, AT&T has announced its enterprise iPhone plans in the US will coincide with the release of the 3G model. With the telco giant revealing a new service allowing employees with AT&T wireless subscriptions to bill their iPhone through the company.

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