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Companies are finding that the iPhone holds some key advantages, though adoption is still fledgling

When the iPhone first came out, there were those who labeled it sure to fail.  The initial hardware -- and initial OS (1.0) -- left much to be desired.  While employees might have pleaded for the stylish-looking new phone, which doubled as a music player, business owners by and large chose to stick with traditional offerings like Blackberries.

Then came the iterative improvements to the iPhone.  First there was the iPhone OS v2.0, the iPhone 3G, and the introduction of the App Store.  And more recently, there was the announcement of iPhone OS v3.0, and rumors of another hardware update.  Somewhere along this way some businesses, which had formerly been doubters, became believers.

A new report from Forrester research, titled "Making iPhone Work In The Enterprise: Early Lessons Learned" looks at three companies that have come around and embraced the iPhone -- Kraft Foods, Oracle, and Amylin Pharmaceutical.

It finds that two main factors have driven the companies to embrace the iPhone: user satisfaction and the promise of the application platform.  The report states, "
If the iPhone is just another messaging device, then don't bother with it.  (But) it can be far more because it is a capable platform for mobile applications. The right sponsor will have a mobile scenario that needs supporting, perhaps a view of much needed third-party applications, or at least a vision for how to get more information to mobile workers."

Looking at the first factor -- user satisfaction -- the report finds that employee requests were a major factor in deciding to adopt the iPhone.  Employees wanted the iPhone, rather than Blackberries, no doubt thanks to its stronger music, gaming, and internet browsing capabilities.  What the companies discovered was that by giving the employees what they wanted, the employees were more motivated to explore the phone on their own. At all three companies, active wiki communities to troubleshoot problems had been created and managed by employees.  This in turn made interactions with IT less frequent and more positive, cutting cost and hassle.

Another strong draw was the application platform.  While the enterprise software market for the iPhone is still relatively young, with
30,000 programs in the App Store, there are some useful tools out there.  Best of all, the platform is easy enough to develop for that businesses can create their own custom-tailored applications.

However, challenges still remain.  The iPhone's
integrated messaging and calendar programs are weaker than the Blackberry's.  Furthermore, central IT management tools for the iPhone are also nonexistent, whereas RIM provides the Blackberry Enterprise Server Suite as a streamlined IT management solution.  Finally, security is also a major concern.  Employees with iPhones tend to use them more for personal business, putting corporate data at risk.  The iPhone's VPN setting also makes many companies uncomfortable with letting them inside the corporate firewall (though a fix for this is likely in store in OS v3.0).

In short, the iPhone has managed to score a few big early adopters, thanks to its improved business viability.  While adoption is going well at these firms, it still has a ways to go, though, before it can truly hope to see broad adoption across the business community.

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RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By stubeck on 4/14/2009 3:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
Don't comment when you don't know what you're commenting on. Exchange was one of the big things about 2.0, its even better than Blackberry is some regards because it brings over contacts and other exchange features which blackberry requires BES for (which is expensive.)

Yes, the onscreen keyboard sucks, but its not an immediate fail.

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By iberrydumb on 4/14/2009 3:45:02 PM , Rating: 2
Take your own advice.This is an article about using phones in the corporate/enterprise market. So you bring up functionality outside of Exchange? Let me help here, right now iPhone is consumer, Bberry is business. iPhone doesn't sync tasks or memos, is that fixed in 3.0? Can I invite someone to a meeting?

Apple runs this "Best Phone for for Business. Ever" campaign That doesn't make you laugh? Really? Really? Really?

I'll consider an iPhone when it's on a real network and th device matures.

In the end it's awesome to have this device in the market fostering innovation and competition. We should all hope Apple doesn't use it's patents to prevent smartphone progress, time will tell.

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By stubeck on 4/14/2009 4:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
When did I bring up functionality outside of exchange?

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By SLEEPER5555 on 4/15/2009 1:40:25 AM , Rating: 2
tasks and memos are part of exchange

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By SLEEPER5555 on 4/15/2009 1:38:27 AM , Rating: 2
BES is free for the first device and just $99 per each additional license so cost wise it isnt bad at all.

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By Drae on 4/15/2009 9:09:36 AM , Rating: 2
Did I miss something somewhere? Blackberry Enterprise Server is $2999, that's for Exchange Server integration and (the "free") 1 user licence. It's $3999 for 20 user licences. Additional licences are indeed $99 per user.

RE: iPhoney for business = fail
By SLEEPER5555 on 4/15/2009 9:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
upto 30 users this is how it works free for the first and then $99 per additional user for our second and third users.

If you have more than 30 users then it is $3000 plus 99 for each additional

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