Apple's new enterprise focus for the iPhone has promise, but the company has to work through a number of software and hardware issues before the device is widely adopted for use in the corporate environment, according to analysts.
At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, CEO Steve Jobs launched the new iPhone 3G, which includes support for faster data downloads and has features like GPS (global positioning service) that could make the smartphone attractive to the enterprise.
However, Apple has failed to address reliability issues with the iPhone hardware, including battery problems, and the built-in software lacks the reliability, management and security software features that could make it easier for enterprises to manage the device, analysts said.
Stressing the use of the iPhone as an enterprise device, Jobs launched iPhone 2.0, a new software platform for the iPhone that includes a software developer kit (SDK). IPhone 2.0 will allow enterprises to push e-mail and contacts from an Exchange server to the iPhone. Also new is support for Cisco IPsec VPN (virtual private network) for encrypted access to corporate networks.
With support for Microsoft Exchange and other features, Apple has responded to requests from enterprise users who live by their mobile phones, said Ahmed Datoo, vice president of marketing at Zenprise. Location-based applications could appeal to enterprises like transportation companies, who can use the iPhone's new GPS capabilities to track inventory, he said.
However, applications developed using the iPhone 2.0 SDK will be distributed using Apple's App Store, which will require users to install iTunes on the iPhone, Datoo said. Enterprises may hesitate to use iTunes, which is considered a consumer application.
Apple also needs to provide more support tools: the ability to wipe out user data from stolen iPhones is included, otherwise remote troubleshooting features are scarce with the new software, Datoo said.
A support organisation needs to be established by Apple to troubleshoot iPhone software problems, Datoo said. Research In Motion already has a support organisation for the competing BlackBerry mobile device, where companies can buy a contract or buy support per incident.