Analyst firm Gartner has told IT executives to keep Apple’s iPhone away from their networks, in a research report due out on Monday.
"We’re telling IT executives to not support it because Apple has no intentions of supporting (iPhone use in) the enterprise," Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney says. "This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities and it’s important that it be recognised as such."
The iPhone, scheduled to ship in the United States on 29 June, appears to be a great consumer device but has no redeeming qualities from the perspective of a business user, Dulaney says. Besides lacking security features like a firewall, the product does not support Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes, so corporate users would have to forward email to an Internet service provider, he said. Gartner’s research note warning against business usage of the iPhone will likely be issued Monday, according to Dulaney.
"You’ll have email in a place that’s unsecured. There are no firewalls on the device. There’s no ability to wipe (data from) the device if it’s lost," Dulaney said.
Businesses have little, if any interest in the iPhone and Apple isn’t marketing it to the business sector anyway, says Randy Giusto, who leads IDC’s analysis of mobile devices, computing and computer markets.
“The iPhone is not positioned at all for the IT world,” he say. "It’s a very personal device. Most corporations are probably not going to support the iPhone on their networks."
Apple may not be making a direct appeal to enterprises, but AT&T is betting that business users will want the iPhone, the IDG News Service reported in April. AT&T plans to market the iPhone to business users and is making sure its backend enterprise billing and support systems will accommodate the device, the report stated.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Apple does plan to go after the business market with the iPhone, but must come up with a strategy for integrating with business software systems that will be acceptable to IT executives.
Apple’s spokeswoman for the iPhone could not be reached for comment.
Businesses tempted by the iPhone should resist for a number of reasons, Dulaney argued. The high price tag – up to $599 in the US – is exorbitant for most enterprises, he says. Even if the iPhone met the security requirements of an IT executive, there’s no real reason for employees to have one. To make it worthwhile, an enterprise would expect firewalls to prevent unauthorised access, long-term maintenance and support commitments, support for an email client like Microsoft Outlook, and PBX integration.
"Enterprises are not going to buy this so employees can buy music and watch movies," Dulaney says. "Business has a very narrow purview of what they want to get done. … From the consumer perspective, Gartner is really positive about this device and it really changes the game."
A 451 Group analyst agrees the iPhone has no place in a business, and thinks the new product won’t even live up to its hype as a consumer device. Tony Rizzo, director of mobile technology research at the analyst firm, doubts Apple’s assurance that the iPhone’s battery will provide up to eight hours of talk time, six hours of Internet use, seven hours of video, and 24 hours of music playback.
“If a user were to click on the Wi-Fi radio inside an iPhone, the battery life would probably significantly drain. Using a large touch screen to do anything is going to eat up a lot of battery life,” Rizzo says.
The touch screen will disappoint both business users and consumers, such as young people who do lots of instant messaging and text messaging, he says.
"It doesn’t have any features that would make it successful as a business tool.
The other question, is it even going to be successful as a consumer device?"Rizzo says. “I’m not giving up my BlackBerry. I like the keyboard, I like the trackball and I like the service."