As IPhone 4 reaches saturation point among the general consumer profile where we won’t be seeing the initial boom that Apple had when they first released their product. However, Apple is currently charging for being a leader in enterprise consumer market. Before going into why we should expect a growth in enterprise market for IPhone 4, I would like to talk about IPhone’s features.
Apple’s IPhone 4 has the most general feature for being a enterprise level smartphone, it has been fully integrated with Microsoft Exchange. So that, it offers secure e-mail services, calendar and contact synchronization. Well as I have said, these listed features are pretty trivial which will not convince companies from their age long business smartphone Blackberry to IPhone. So what else is out there that Apple offers to the companies?
To start with, IPhone 4 comes out with a fully capable Safari on where you can reach enterprise web applications without a problem. ( Well, I am assuming the companies are not using Flash for their applications.) Safari also comes with the capability of taking advantage of VPN and SSL. You can connect to your corporate network using your smartphone without having a problem.
As we spend a significant time of our daily life on the go, traveling from one place to another it is really handy to have a device that can fully support Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. IPhone 4 offers this compatibility as well as PDF, JPEG and iWork.
Still up until this point, I don’t think these features are any “socking”. I think it is time for IPhone to bring out the big “guns”. Apple offers integrated contacts list with Maps where you can use your phone’s GPS when you are on the way to your client meeting. This is a really handy feature especially for the employees whose work require a lot of traveling like a sales representative. We all know that big cities can get tricky with the address where having a device with this kind of a feature can save you time and sanity.
IPhone 4 comes out with applications such as Maps ( where you can use GPS), compass, stocks and my others. However the most important feature that comes with this phone is actually a technical one. It is that IPhone 4 has 256-bit hardware encryption on data where you can take advantage of creating corporate confidential applications. In case of missing or stolen device, IPhone 4 also has a option where you can wipe all data on the phone remotely from your Exchange or Mobile Device Management servers. I personally think this is an really important feature for a device that has a big chance of being lost or stolen. Build in GPS is also handy in such cases for locating the device.
For large corporations, application distribution is also a important concept. One can imagine that having a requirement for all devices to be physically logged in to the main company servers for application update or installation. If you are using an IPhone 4, you don’t need such thing. Application distribution can be done to any device around the globe wirelessly.
The main futures that I listed above is the general stuff that Apple offers to its business level customers. Still the question of why IPhone can be a better choice over Blackberry is not answered for my stand point. My point is that a business smartphone needs the simplicity in its applications and variety in number of applications are written for that device. Well I think one can easily see the difference of understanding of functionality between Apple and Research In Motion. It is not always a good idea to cram in tons of functions where you can get lost trying to find your way. I think that is what RIM does. Every time I have to use a Blackberry and use an application on it, it is really annoying to move around and find my way. Whereas with Apple’s understanding of Graphical User interface I get where I want with couple simple finger clicks. This is the main criticism that Blackberry applications receive based on my both personal experience as well as people using Blackberry’s as their company phones. As coming to the point of variety of applications, it is not a good idea to say IPhone has a huge archive of applications on iTunes. This cannot be a advantage at this point as companies have strict regulations on what you can use as an application to your company phone as well as the restrictions on which website you can use on your company phone. However, the massive size of iTunes brings a wild card to IPhone. There are a huge group of developers who are already developing for IPhone. If the enterprises decides to embrace the idea of making it available to their employees, I would expect a boom in business oriented applications in market for IPhones as there is already a well equipped and experienced group of developers out in the field.
To summarize my article, as the news of banks and Fortune 500 companies continue to approve IPhone 4 as an option for company mobile phones, I am expecting the clash between RIM and Apple in general consumer market to take a new level in enterprise market. In my honest opinion, I think Apple Inc. is on its way to take over that market from RIM as they already did in Q4 of 2010 in general smartphone market. Thus, it would be a wise decision for software development companies to start working on enterprise targeted products to have a head start in the race.