RealTime IT News

iPhone Grabs Market Share, But Not Yet in The Enterprise

Apple's iPhone is now one of the top three most-popular smartphones in play, but although it's not a mobile enterprise device, industry watchers aren't dismissing the possibility.

One analyst believes that if Apple spurs greater application development and solves some minor form-factor issues, such as adding a keyboard, the vendor could become the mobile work device of choice.

"All new devices come in the back door of a company. That's how the BlackBerry came into the enterprise," Carmi Levy, a senior analyst with AR Communications, told InternetNews.com. While the iPhone doesn't have the street credibility of RIM's device, the iPhone could become the mobile computer in business. Apple just has to address some issues."

One analyst went even further about the iPhone's enterprise potential, noting that Apple's already having a major impact on new smartphone design and capabilities.

"The iPhone has accelerated development of highly configurable, touch-screen interfaces and has focused companies on delivering an uncompromised Web browsing experience on a small device," Peter Cunningham, a senior analyst with Canalys, told InternetNews.com.

"It also offers a much simpler way of upgrading software after purchase than competitors have managed so far, which is potentially very powerful. A few products came out quickly after the iPhone was announced, but you will see many more once the underlying technology is incorporated into the Windows Mobile and Symbian operating systems, and presumably Android too," he added.

Canalys released a report this week heralding Apple's fast growth in the smartphone market. The iPhone maker is in third place having shipped 2,320,840 phones in the last quarter of 2007. The figure represents 6.5 percent of the market .

Cunningham says Apple's growth in the market is spectacular, given it's selling just one product in just four countries.

Nokia still reigns, having shipped 60.5 million devices last year while RIM had 12.2 million sales -- a respectable jump of 112 percent in just one year. Overall a total 118 million smartphones were sold last year.

Levy said the market statistics support his contention that today's mobile phones will all be smartphones within three to five years. "It's a no-brainer as what we view as a cell phone today will be gone as everyone wants a computing device and not just a phone," he said.

The smartphones of tomorrow will feature what users need, and Cunningham expects Apple will keep innovating new design aspects.

"Apple's innovation in its mobile phone user interface has prompted a lot of design activity among competitors," Cunningham said. "We saw the beginnings of that in 2007, but we will see a lot more in 2008 as other smartphone vendors try to catch up and then get back in front."

Hopefully, Levy said, Apple will get busy with its design activity as well. In addition to the necessary keyboard, the vendor has to address battery life issues and revamp its stylish screen for a more business-fitting form factor.

"All the issues preventing it from truly being an enterprise smartphone can be addressed," he said. "None are showstoppers."

If so, Apple will clearly grab more than its current 28 percent share of the U.S. converged device market. As Apple is now ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, an enterprise-geared iPhone could very easily give RIM a run for its money if it starts flooding through more corporate back doors.