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iPhone 3G poses barriers to business adoption

UK enterprise adoption of the iPhone 3G may be hampered by security issues and Apple's exclusive partnership with O2, among other factors.
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Written by Natasha Lomas on
For years, Apple has paid little attention to products for enterprise users. Now it's pitching its new iPhone 3G as: "The best phone for business. Ever". But has it got the package right?

The update lets companies push email to the smartphone and supports communication with Microsoft Exchange mail servers using ActiveSync. There's in-built Cisco VPN, location services using GPS (but no driving directions) and, of course, the fast 3G networking. It will also allow businesses to deliver enterprise applications to the handset without any intermediary. Here at ZDNet.co.uk, we wondered what ordinary business users would make of these new features. We asked readers: "Is it enough? Could you see yourself using the iPhone in your workplace?" Here's what they said.

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John Romeis
It's still missing central management, similar to Blackberry Enterprise. Otherwise, it looks comparable to the HTC offering I am using, except it has the Cisco VPN client which is a great plus. So yes, I could see myself using it in the workplace — if it was on Vodafone!

John Romeis is CIO of London-based Marchpole Holdings, a fashion distributor.

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Gordon Barnes
Yes, I feel the iPhone is going to cause big waves both in the consumer and business markets.

Exchange support will open this product up to us now. Also, the fact that third-party apps can now be added to the iPhone means all those talented Mac developers will come up with some great new products that make good use of the hardware features. We've already seen from the keynote what is possible in only a few weeks of development time.

GPS was not essential, but I'm glad it is there now. Usability is the key though. As someone said to me the other day: "There a loads of phones out there that 'do email', but they are normally complicated to set up." The iPhone philosophy of making these tasks simpler is well known to Mac users. Only criticism at the moment is the lack of choice of network provider in the UK. I'm sure O2 are great (I have no experience of them) but it would be best to have some choice here.

Gordon Barnes is a systems manager at Scottish Screen, the national development agency for the screen industries in Scotland. ________________________________________

Paul Jarvis
Yes, the iPhone now ticks most of the boxes for corporate use. I have stuck with my HTC windows mobile so far even though I've been tempted toward the iPhone. One thing I would need to see before I took the plunge would be TomTom or equivalent software for GPS usage whilst driving (together with car kit of course).

Paul Jarvis is a senior IT consultant for Itex Offshore in Jersey.

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John Hamilton
The hardware spec is a big improvement and brings it in line with other smartphones. Possible problem areas I see are:

• The single tasking OS, crippling users in their ability to multitask
• Single UK carrier O2--our organization if 95%+ Vodafone 2,000 devices
• Device security/data encryption. Corporate data will be stored on these device and people lose them
• Corporate controlled firewall required to safeguard device and users
• Lack of CESG approval to use in government systems development of corporate applications

John Hamilton provides technical support for the Forestry Commission.

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Tony McNamee
For me, the important new features are 3G capability, push email and VPN (Although other VPN vendors would be nice). However, the ability to choose the network provider would also be of significant importance.

Tony McNamee is a director of information systems.

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Phil Jackson
It very clearly is a step in the right direction. However, it is let down by two issues.

It is a locked phone, limited to one carrier. Most Europeans want, in fact demand, the freedom to choose their carrier and to be able to swap SIMs with other phones. I do not think Apple yet understand the phone market outside of the USA.

Its camera is just not suitable yet for me to use to replace my compact digital, which I use not only for basic photography but also to record whiteboards from consulting sessions. Two megapixels is not quite enough for this to be reliable. I would be happy with 4-plus.

Finally, most of the ME [MobileMe] services are available from Google maybe not quite so pretty, but they work OK.

Phil Jackson is a senior industry consultant in the professional services group at Bentley Systems.

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Ignacio Toro Lyng
I'm missing:
• Microsoft office capacity (this is Excel, Word and PowerPoint).
• A good quality camera for taking photos and video. It must be at least 7 megapixels for photos, and a good quality for video.
• Great memory capacity, and the possibility to expand it with a microSD card.
• The possibility of installing two phone chips, so I could have two lines in the same phone (my work, and my personal number).
• The possibility of blocking the numbers of certain people who I don't want to answer, and send them immediately to the voicemail.
• Capacity to install Skype and Messenger working with all the functionality of a computer.
• The possibility of backing up my important documents in my iPhone. This is a functionality like a external hard drive (an easy and quick backup).

Ignacio Toro Lyng is a marketing director for Fanaloza in Chile.

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Julian
Love the new iPhone, our problem is that O2 are not the most cost effective carrier. I have a current model iPhone that I hacked to run on our existing Orange SIMs, but we are moving to T-Mobile in July and will not purchase another 3G iPhone to do the same with (even if it is possible!).

I also cannot move our company contract to the iPhone, because it is way more expensive than our existing choice of handset (E51 from Nokia).

Julian [location and employment details not available].

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John Herdman
I think that the iPhone was too expensive at first, but now I would recommend it to anyone as it is, given the new price point and software (especially as it ties in with MobileMe), very good value for money and is simply the best mobile device on the market.

John Herdman works at Stargate Computers, a computer support provider.

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Simon Stahn
It may finally be ready as a business tool. In terms of features, 3G is a nice-to-have, but GSM works just as well — it's just user perception, as we all like a bit of speed. GPS on phones is a little gimmicky, but Cisco's VPN client should give the iPhone a little security boost. However, lack of on-board encryption will still hamper the iPhone's adoption in security-conscious organizations. Proper Exchange connectivity will be a key for many organizations, if only as a final excuse for management to buy some.

Unfortunately, with untested device management, I don't think too many IT departments will be clamoring for iPhones...except as executive toys, which is why I've registered my interest with O2 to buy one! Pricing seems very similar to other new-release phones, but at well under £200 on a reasonable plan, it's a no-brainer for anyone who actually wants one.

Lastly, the unknowns/worries for me are battery life (why still no replaceable battery?), signal strength (iPhone v1 was a little rubbish) and the rumored (continuing) lack of cut and paste.

Simon Stahn works for Adrenalan.

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