Watch out Blackberries -- there's a new business phone in
town; that's the growing
message being perceived by the business community. The phone to which
the buzz is refers is the iPhone, which may or may not being surprising to
The TIME invention of the year, it turns
out, is not just all fun and games. It’s easy to use interface, full
featured web-browser, jumbo color screen and flexible OS base also make the
iPhone an ideal business tool, according to a growing number of software and
marketing firms. Okay, so maybe part of it is the "fun appeal",
but the iPhone knows how to find that ideal mix of work and play.
"It's fun. It's so popular!" raved Mike de la Cruz, a senior
vice president with German
software giant SAP AG, at a recent business conference in Boston.
SAP, Saleforce.com Inc, and many other software firms are embracing the iPhone
and are allowing their sales and finance employees work away from the office
using the iPhone. So if you see a well dressed business man in a New York
City street cafe, furiously scrolling through charts of sales figures, don't be
surprised -- he's probably just one of the growing hoards of iPhone-embracing
The popularity and utility of the device has led SAP to change course and
announce that it will launch its customer relationship management software
for the iPhone before it launches similar software for RIM and Palm
Inc. The move is by no means a snub to the latter, but rather a statement
on SAP's part of the potential it feels the iPhone holds for bringing great things
to the business world.
While the iPhone is popular due its fun appeal and easy to use, it still has
several weaknesses holding it back in terms of business potential, however.
One feature that is lacking is the email capabilities. The iPhone supports
standard corporate email but does not support "Push" capabilities,
and must be docked with a computer to update calendars or contacts. Also
the iPhone does not support business stalwart Microsoft Outlook, and licensing
the Exchange base of Outlook would require some awkward negotiating on Apple's
part with the arch-rival it so enjoys poking fun at.
Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research thinks such a partnership
is not impossible. He points to how Apple worked out an agreement with
Microsoft to allow the iPod to be compatible with Microsoft Windows, and the
great success the move yielded. He says, "What really made the iPod
take off was when they made it compatible with Windows. So if they made the
iPhone compatible with Windows e-mail, meaning Outlook, that would really make
sales take off."
Another complaint is that the phone's EDGE network connection is simply too
slow. This problem at least will be remedied in 2008, as AT&T
executives have confirmed that faster
3G is on the way, only awaiting Steve
Jobs' price point decision.
Other complaints include Apple's locking of the iPhone to the AT&T network
and the lack of a physical keyboard, which many executives have griped about off
the record. While Apple is unlike to reverse its network policies, a
keyboard or new typing solution may be in the works.
sales of 1.12 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter, the phone is by
no means dominating the business phone market, despite growing interest.
RIM shipped 3 million of its Blackberry phones in its second quarter, which
ended at approximately the same time. Also, these figures to not do
proper justice to the fact that most Blackberries sold were for business users,
while most iPhones sold were for recreational users.
Still, some businesses are warming up to the trendy iPhone and showing it a bit
of cautious love. Apple's moves in coming months will likely determine
whether this trend continues and if the iPhone will be a business blockbuster
or just another flop.
quote: The ONLY thing the iPhone has that is better than everything else out there is the web browser.
quote: I dont know many companies that would need GPS on the phone
quote: Apple worked out an agreement with Microsoft to allow the iPod to be compatible with Microsoft Windows, and the great success the move yielded.