Opinion: 10 ways Apple can make the iPhone a killer business device

The device has potential, but Apple needs to meet corporate needs

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8. Add copy and paste functionality.

One of the iPhone's big limitations from the start has been the lack of support for copying and pasting data, either within an application or between applications.

Copy and paste has become such an ingrained part of computing that it's shocking to imagine any platform without it. Since it's been available on Windows Mobile and other platforms for years -- and in the third-party Magic Pad iPhone application -- the capability clearly exists.

Apple claims to have heard the cries about copy and paste but says it isn't a priority. Sure, there are more important issues that should be addressed first, but if Apple ever offers document-editing capabilities on the iPhone, copy and paste needs to be implemented alongside them.

And even now the ability to copy and paste from e-mails, Web pages, calendar items and read-only documents would be a boon. If the iPhone is ever to become the business kingpin it has the potential to be, this feature is a must.

9. Implement enterprise licensing for the App Store.

I doubt anyone could call the App Store anything but a rousing a success. With thousands of applications easy to access (if not always easy to find) and download, the App Store offers users a single place to get new apps and provides a revenue stream for Apple and developers. Numerous applications in the App Store have serious business potential.

But the entire plan for the App Store seems relentlessly consumer-centric. Access is tied to an Apple ID for billing and is required even for free applications. Like other iTunes purchases, only five computers can be authorized for a single Apple ID.

While this works for individuals, families and very small businesses, it doesn't scale well for businesses looking to roll out more than a handful of iPhones. There are only two main options: centrally activate and sync all iPhones to a handful of computers using the same set of Apple IDs, or require users to purchase and download applications on their own with individual Apple IDs -- though these could be set up to bill to a company account. Neither option is particularly attractive.

Apple needs to develop some sort of enterprise licensing scheme, one that allows an organization to make bulk purchases of iPhone applications, either in a volume- or site-licensing format. Ideally, this would also include a way to distribute the applications to all the iPhones owned by a company.

Apple does have some options. It allows ad hoc and enterprise distribution of applications created by developers through the use of provisioning profiles that let applications run -- even if they weren't purchased from the App Store. The problem isn't technical here; it's the payment and licensing issues across a spectrum of potential iPhone developers that could be the stumbling block.

Interestingly enough, licensing for FMTouch, an iPhone FileMaker Pro solution, is available for enterprises and can be done outside of the App Store. (FileMaker requires membership in the iPhone Developer program, however, to offer enterprise licensing.) This proves enterprise licensing can be done. However, since FileMaker is an Apple subsidiary, the logistical challenges for the company are much reduced.

Another approach already used by Salesforce.com and Oracle for their iPhone applications is to tie access to an iPhone application to an existing product license. These options may point to Apple's eventual plan to partner with, or allow major developers access to, enterprise licensing models without providing full enterprise licensing to the entire App Store.

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