IT Braces for iPhone Debut

Tech workers expect end users to push for support of Apple's new device

As Fridays scheduled release of Apple Inc.s iPhone draws ever closer, some IT managers are hustling to get ready to support the new devices, anticipating the moment when the CEO walks in with one and demands to read his corporate e-mail on it.

For example, the official policy at ABC Inc. at this point is not to support the iPhone at all. But some exceptions will be made for top executives, said Jeff Plotkin, an engineer and technology liaison in broadcast operations at the New York-based media company.

For one or two ABC [division] presidents, well make the walls move to allow it because were in the communications business, Plotkin said, noting that the executives will want to examine the iPhones possible business uses.

Plotkin and other IT managers expect the iPhone to be very alluring to their workers, even though the multifunction device wont support Notes or Windows Outlook e-mail. Instead, it will include a Web client for accessing e-mail.

Apple's iPhone

Apple's iPhone Potential Nightmare

The iPhone could prove to be a nightmare for some IT departments because it requires an iTunes music directory account for each user. That could potentially put IT in the position of having to provide storage capacity for songs and ensure that copyrights arent being violated.

How many enterprises want iTunes running around in the enterprise? asked Gartner Inc. analyst Ken Dulaney. He noted that lots of Gartner clients have been asking questions about business use of the iPhone. IT managers are scared of this device, he said.

A policy at Marriott International Inc. prohibits employees from using iTunes on any of the companys systems, said Arnaldo Impelizieri, director of hotel technology at the Grande Lakes Orlando resort, which is run by Marriott.

Were worried about the size of iTunes files, and also who is buying songs or not, and the huge concern about potential copyright infringements, Impelizieri said.

But he added that Marriott faces a dilemma because it will want to support the iPhone for guests at its hotels. If a customer has one, well do our best to support it, he said. But that will require some sorting out.

Tim Ma, a biomedical engineer at the American Red Cross in Washington who also does some IT planning for the nonprofit organization, said he expects pressure from end users to support the iPhone. But, he said, its too early in the game to say if wed support it. Wed need a proven track record before moving forward.

Ma said he is curious about the iPhones benefits for a large organization like the Red Cross. For one thing, Apples device will have a full-screen Web browser, which could give it an advantage over Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry. Nonetheless, we have a contract with BlackBerry for a long time, Ma said.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates LLC, said he doesnt consider this version of the iPhone to be suitable for business users unless they limit their use of the device to functions such as phone calls.

Everybody assumes that because Apple makes it, the iPhone will be great, but its hard to make a good phone, let alone [one that can] pass data, Gold said. Still, executives are going to come back from the store and tell IT to make it work.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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