Analysts to IT: Avoid Apple's iPhone

It may be a great consumer device, but don't expect companies to support it

Analyst firm Gartner Inc. will tell IT executives to keep Apple Inc.'s iPhone away from their networks, in a research report to be released within a week.

"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 said. "This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities, and it's important that it be recognized as such."

The iPhone, scheduled to ship in the U.S. on June 29, appears to be a great consumer device but has no redeeming qualities from the perspective of a business user, Dulaney said. Besides lacking security features like a firewall, the product does not support Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes, so corporate users would have to forward e-mail 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 e-mail 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, said 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 said. "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 companies, but AT&T Inc. 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 back-end corporate billing and support systems will accommodate the device, the report stated.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Apple plans to go after the business market with the iPhone, but it 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 said. The high price tag -- as much as $599 -- is exorbitant for most companies, he said. 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, a company would expect firewalls to prevent unauthorized access, long-term maintenance and support commitments, support for an e-mail client like Microsoft Outlook, and PBX integration.

"Enterprises are not going to buy this so employees can buy music and watch movies," Dulaney said. "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 agreed that the iPhone has no place in a business and said the device won't 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 said.

The touch screen will disappoint both business users and consumers, such as young people who do a lot of instant messaging and text messaging, he said.

"It doesn't have any features that would make it successful as a business tool.

The other question is, is it even going to be successful as a consumer device?" Rizzo said. "I'm not giving up my BlackBerry. I like the keyboard, I like the trackball and I like the service."

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This story, "Analysts to IT: Avoid Apple's iPhone" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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