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Five Good Things About the Verizon iPhone for Enterprises

The Verizon iPhone 4 will be a boon to many U.S. enterprise workers for at least three reasons (while I dismiss two other objections).

Gartner's Hype Cycle seems so quaint these days. Seemingly within minutes of Verizon's iPhone 4 launch on Tuesday morning, BNET's Damon Brown had a post up arguing that the Verizon iPhone is "not for serious business professionals."

Ouch for Brown, who sure fell into that Trough of Disillusionment quickly. I, on the other hand, see myself as a more of a glass-half-full kind of guy. So his objections didn't carry that much weight to me.

First, Brown argues that the lack of keyboard will keep many would-be business switchers on their BlackBerries. My reply: there is such a thing as third-party accessories. For instance, there is the $70 BoxWave Keyboard Buddy which is a case/slide-out keyboard for the iPhone 4. I got it for a pal for Christmas since, as I told his spouse, he texts as much as a teenage girl. It's not perfect - Engadget rates it a 7/10 for its solid sliding keyboard and look, but dings it slightly for the feel of the keyboard itself - but it seems like a solid option for keyboard addicts.

Second, Brown also points out some of the high-profile security problems found with iOS last year. My reply: many of those problems were solved by iOS 4. And in any case, any IT department worth its salt, security-wise, is starting to investigate or deploy mobile device management (MDM) software (full disclosure: such as Sybase's own market-leading Afaria) to get a firm grasp over its growing fleet of Android and iPhone devices (Microsoft Exchange not being sufficient, in most security pro views). For companies looking for a less-complicated solution, Verizon has a hosted MDM service in partnership with Sybase.

Moreover, the Verizon iPhone 4 is going to be a boon to enterprises in these three additional ways:

1) Another very solid carrier. While IT departments have been forced to allow a variety of devices into their enterprise (i.e. the 'Bring Your Own Device' movement), they have drawn a harder line at supporting multiple carriers (in the same country, anyway). So it's likely that plenty of iPhone-wielding workers couldn't get support or subsidies simply because their company had standardized on Verizon for its reputation of overall better coverage and voice quality. As Computerworld's Richi Jennings put it (sign-in required), Hello envious Verizon BlackBerry users!

2) Legal personal Wi-Fi hotspottethering. AT&T doesn't allow its users to use the iPhone as a modem for other devices, like a laptop. But it doesn't allow the iPhone to serve as a personal Wi-Fi hotspot for multiple devices and PCs. Sure, it's technically possible, if you run a jailbroken version of iOS, but it's mostly the kids doing that. Corporate workers whose iPhones are managed by their IT department can't do that. Verizon will let the iPhone serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 5 other devices. It might be pricey, but this will be a cost that enterprises will absorb for their traveling executives and salespeople, especially since alternatives such as iPass subscriptions are no cheaper.

3) More apps, especially enterprise ones. An analyst told Bloomberg that the Verizon should add 13.3 million new iPhone users this year, of which 11 million are net new users (2.3 million stolen from AT&T's total 23 million subscribers). Excluding AT&T's growth, Verizon alone will cause the ranks of iPhone users to swell by 50% in 2011. This will move even more developers to get off the iPhone sidelines, especially enterprise-oriented ones.


Are you an enterprise worker/IT manager considering the move to Verizon's iPhone? Why or why not?

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