Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised deeper enterprise support with its iPhone 4 and its iOS 4 software, noting that it will offer better data protection, wireless application distribution and support for multiple Exchange e-mail accounts, as well as SSL VPN security.
But all of that still might not be enough for some industry analysts to give IT shops a green light for full iPhone deployments, at least when the iPhone is compared with BlackBerry devices, which are backed by the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and used by many large companies.
Back in April, the initial analyst reactions to the mobile operating system were positive. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said Apple was "on a positive track for enterprise support" more than with any of its prior releases. Dulaney and Gartner had been major critics of using the iPhone in the enterprise before April, so his comments were significant.
But after the iPhone 4 launch, Dulaney said Gartner would need more time to test the device in business settings to make a full judgment.
Dulaney also referred to a research note that he and another Gartner analyst, John Girard, prepared on May 20 that stated, "Apple continues to make incremental improvements for enterprise support [with iOS 4] and will widen its appeal to third parties and end users."
But those optimistic remarks were followed by this comment: "The iPhone is still not at the level of the BlackBerry at its highest levels of security, or at the level of Microsoft when third-party products complement Windows Mobile. However, Apple's iPhone OS 4 enhancements are a step in the right direction."
Dulaney said in an interview that Gartner would hold that May 20 conclusion, pending further testing once the iPhone 4 ships. The device is scheduled to ship June 24.
According to Gartner, for the iPhone 4 to be enterprise-ready, its operating system, iOS 4, needs to have FIPS 140-2-certified encryption, a standard that government agencies require. Apple also needs a social collaboration client in iOS 4 and more background processing modules for security and device management, Gartner said.
While other analysts have praised improvements in iOS 4, one deficiency noted by Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler and Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates is that IT shops are unable to automatically push policy and software updates to iPhone users, meaning users would have to click a button to receive an update, leaving the IT shop to trust users to do so. Gold has called that deficiency a "barrier to iOS adoption" for banks and regulated companies.
The new iOS 4 software will ship on iPhone 4 units available June 24 but can also be added for free to the iPhone 3GS and 3G on June 21, Jobs said, expanding potential enterprise benefits to more users with older iPhones. The 3G phones will not be able to use the iOS 4's multitasking functionality because of hardware constraints, Jobs added.