Apple’s iPhone will soon receive a more enterprise-friendly version of firmware and security enhancements, resulting in Gartner, Inc. recommending “appliance-level” support status once the improvements are released. During the initial launch of the iPhone, Gartner analysts expressed concern over some security issues with the device, but recently announced enhancements, expected to be delivered in June 2008, have caused Gartner to change its recommendation.
“Appliance-level” status permits the iPhone to be used for PIM, e-mail, telephony and browsing applications. It also permits the device to 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, 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,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “The iPhone will thus match up initially in several segments against its main smartphone competitors — BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60.”
Earlier this month 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 and the addition of WPA2 security for Wi-Fi 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 e-mail use,” Mr. Dulaney said. “This will open up a huge market for the iPhone, which previously had been stymied by a lack of basic business security and application functionality. However, Apple must widen distribution and of course deliver what they have promised.”
Expansion of the iPhone into the enterprise could mean that Apple will become a mainstream supplier of client platform development tools. This could mean that other Apple products begin to appeal to end users. However, this will push enterprises to invest in technologies with which they are unfamiliar and that require training and further investment.
“Management of the iPhone outside the Exchange e-mail/PIM application will require familiarity with new products such as Apple’s iPhone Configuration Utility. And enterprises should thoroughly review the platform’s management and security options to understand how they can control any consumer elements of the platform that may pose a risk,” Mr. Dulaney said.
Additional information is available in the Gartner report “Gartner Changes Its Enterprise iPhone Recommendations." The report is available on Gartner’s Web site at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=625908&subref=simplesearch.
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