iPhone is ready for business says Gartner in mind-change

In a surprising volte-face, influential IT analyst Gartner has given Apple's iPhone a qualified endorsement as an enterprise tool. At the launch of the iPhone, Gartner analysts expressed concern over security issues with the device, but recently-announced enhancements (expected delivery, June 2008) have caused Gartner to change its recommendation.

iPhone will receive an 'enterprise-friendly' version of firmware and security enhancements, resulting in Gartner recommending 'appliance-level' support status when the improvements are released. 'Appliance-level' status means the iPhone can be used for PIM (personal information manager), email, telephony and browsing applications.

It also lets the device be used for other dedicated functions where the software is supplied by a third-party; functionality is kept to a restricted set, the software supplier offers support for a backup platform and IT development resources are not needed to program custom code locally residing on the device.

"In its initial release, the iPhone was, with few exceptions, an Internet tablet with browser-based applications as its main offering," said Ken Dulaney, Gartner VP and distinguished analyst. "However, the release of firmware 2.0 changes that, enabling enterprises to develop local code and create applications that do not depend on network capabilities. The iPhone will thus match up initially in several segments against its main smartphone competitors ̵2; BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60."

Earlier this year (March 2008), Apple announced developer access to the iPhone software developer kit (SDK) and firmware 2.0, licensing of the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol suite, support for Cisco IPSEC (network security), and the addition of WPA2 security for WiFi connections.

"By licensing Exchange ActiveSync and exposing its basic security policies, enterprises can provide sufficient security for iPhone during Exchange personal information manager (PIM) and email use," Dulaney asserted. "This will open up a huge market for the iPhone, which had been stymied by a lack of basic business security and application functionality." Apple must, however, "widen distribution ̵1; and, of course, deliver what they have promised", Dulaney added.

Further information: www.gartner.com

Image: iPhone has potential to take on the established enterprise smartphone market

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