Is The iPhone Boom A Business Boon?

We all know how the iPhone frenzy has grabbed popular imagination since it was first announced in Jan 2007. With its cool feature set, slick appearance, powerful computing capabilities, beautiful display and intuitive touch navigation, this poster boy of the mobile generation has captured the imagination of gizmo freaks and tech phobics alike. To get some measure of iPhone’s success, one only needs refer to Tim Cook’s (Apple’s COO) recent statement at a conference – he said that the company had “really good confidence” the company would hit 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008.

According to a research from IDC, 70 percent of those polled who own, or plan to purchase an iPhone in the next year, consider it to be for both personal and business use.

Considering the vast proliferation of iPhones in such a short span, it is natural that all those who own a iPhone would want to extend its use to business as well. And it is no joy carrying around a Blackberry and iPhone in either pocket. All that does is to exert extra downward pressure on the belt. It is no wonder then, that iPhone’s usability in a business context is a raging debate nowadays. That is still a secondary question, because the fact remains that present and future end users of iPhone see is as something they want to use for business.

The Bad News

Unfortunately for corporates, iPhone was created mainly for the meatier consumer market, and never really meant to be a business tool.

What Obstructs “iPhone for Business”
– It’s mainly a PIM
– Third party applications not supported
– Lack of Exchange Support

Mainly a PIM – iPhone mainly has PIM (personal information manager) capabilities (email, contacts, calendars, calendars, notes) and not meant to be used for team collaboration, which requires the ability to share and work together on information.

Sorry Third Party Developers – iPhone runs on a custom built operating system called the “iPhone OS”, and at this point does not allow third party applications to be built & installed on this native OS. Users are restricted to applications pre-built into the system (mail, SMS, calendar, photos, etc). This meant no special business centric applications could be created to make use of iPhone’s computing & display capabilities and internet-ability.

No Exchange Support – The gravest omission was a lack of support for MS Exchange, which meant that users could not view even the most most elementary business information – business mail, contacts, tasks, and calendars, on their iPhones, what to speak of advanced collaboration. The only way to achieve this was complicated and unreliable workarounds

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