iPhone Finding Success in the Enterprise

It’s no secret that the iPhone is a fast-rising champ in the consumer smartphone market, but now it’s poised to reign supreme in the business market too, due to its intuitive interface, superior browsing experience and rapidly evolving developer tool kit, according to Forrester report issued yesterday.

In his study, “Making iPhone Work In The Enterprise: Early Lessons Learned,” Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said the iPhone has successfully been integrated into several major enterprises, like Kraft Foods, Oracle and Amylin Pharmaceuticals.

Schadler said the new indicates the iPhone may be capable of taking on Research in Motion’s BlackBerry in its field of dominance — the workplace.

“The iPhone’s intuitive interface, superior browsing experience, and rapidly evolving developer
tool kit make content-centric applications far more appealing on an iPhone than on a BlackBerry
or Windows Mobile device,” Schadler wrote. “While BlackBerry is still the e-mail and calendaring winner, iPhone devotees do make the shift to typing on glass.”

The news comes at a time when the smartphone market continues to post modest gains despite the recession and competition heats up as rivals gun for the lion’s share of the market. Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) is pushing ahead in its do-or-die plan to release its Pre smartphone by June, while Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is thought to be readying its new iPhone. Meanwhile, Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) plans to roll out updates to the BlackBerry Storm, while a slew of Android-based phones are expected from Samsung, HTC and even hardware-maker Acer.

The Forrester data also signifies a change of position in terms of the iPhone’s dominance in the marketplace — the research company in December 2007 had issued a report called “The iPhone is Not Meant for Enterprises.”

So, what’s changed?

For starters, the Forrester report said it’s hard to deny the iPhone’s ability to woo new consumers — which makes it hard to deny them a place in the office. “In this era of Technology Populism, where consumer IT is often better than enterprise IT, it sometimes just makes sense to give employees the freedom to choose the tools they want.”

The report also cited one IT exec, who said “If an employee owns his own device, the phone tends to hit the pavement a lot less.”

Schadler also said in his report that the iPhone makes for simpler mobile collaboration and Web use.

“As anybody with experience on both iPhones and BlackBerry will tell you, the Internet feels natural on an iPhone and a like a chore on a BlackBerry,” he wrote in the report.

[cob:Special_Report]iPhone users also need less hand-holding, Forrester said, pointing out that iPhone users at Kraft Foods, Oracle and Amylin Pharmaceuticals have each set up wikis to give each other support for the devices — and cited one IT staffer as saying that “overall, they provide better support than we can.”

Additionally, the iPhone may actually be proving cheaper in the long run for other ways — an important selling point in today’s era of cost-cutting.

“In at least one case, an iPhone adopter found that the data plans for previous mobile devices were more expensive than the consumer plans AT&T is offering for iPhones,” the report said. “This company was able to reset its baseline plan pricing 30 percent lower for all phones because it supported iPhone.”

Page 2: But is IT ready for the iPhone?

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Forrester also said that the iPhone’s position in the enterprise may only be getting stronger, as well. The report said the device’s upcoming operating system, iPhone 3.0, will address many of the security, calendar and functionality concerns that IT formerly had with the iPhone.

Key among these enhancements are added on-demand to require VPN login where needed; ActiveSync calendar synchronization issues fixed, and added CalDAV support; encrypted device configuration profiles that are prevented from being deleted; and encrypted backup to the desktop through iTunes on PCs and Macs.

IT unprepared for the iPhone?

While the iPhone’s growth in the enterprise may bode well for Apple, the implications may be more problematic for corporate IT staff, tasked with enterprise mobile management.

Another recent report concluded that most IT departments are not prepared to handle the rapid adoption of smartphones running on multiple platforms in the workplace.

A study by Osterman Research, conducted on behalf of mobile management company Zenprise, found that of the IT staffers surveyed, only two in five expressed confidence that all elements of their mobile messaging platform are fully protected against downtime.

It might not be surprising that the findings work in Zenprise’s favor. But they also back up Forrester’s conclusions, revealing a 100 percent increase in workplace support for iPhones from 2008 to 2009, as well as a 40 percent increase in Symbian-based mobile devices.

The Osterman report also found growing demand for greater iPhone presence in the enterprise.

“Even with 71 percent of organizations reporting strong user interest for BlackBerry devices, more than half (54 percent) of those surveyed reported demand for iPhones,” the report said.

The advent of the Palm Pre and the crop of Android smartphones due out this summer will add to the growing complexity of the enterprise mobile landscape, Ahmed Datoo, vice president of marketing at Zenprise, told InternetNews.com.

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