Guess who's coming to dinner at IT's place?! Well, not the iPhone if Forrester Research has anything to say about it!
Well! That must bet the final word on that! Because it's not like Forrester's ever written something so completely bass-ackwards that it made you think about hanging up a shingle and becoming a high-priced technology consulting firm because, holy hell, if they're giving out advice like that, how hard could it be?
ZDNet's Larry Dignan has rundown of Forrester's Top Ten Reasons Why The iPhone Is Teh Suxx0r. That's right, Forrester's report is in the same format as a late-night comedy routine.
Even Dignan takes some of these items to task, but not as much to task as Mark Goble, who actually deployed iPhones in an enterprise and was interviewed about it by the Wall Street Journal.
Doesn't that guy know that Rob Enderle said the iPhone was really just for teenagers?
Hmm. Maybe his account managers are all teenagers. Well, whatever. Let's go to the list.
1. The iPhone doesn't natively support push business email and only checks for mail every 15 minutes compared to 1 minute on other devices.
As for the time interval, if one minute is a feature, it's a broken feature. The Macalope can't tell you how many meetings he's been in with Crackberry addicts who are not paying attention to the discussion but instead are emailing their buddy in accounting to ask "Hey, did you get that thing I sent you?!" Obviously, if you're a heart surgeon or nuclear engineer or Jack Bauer, you're going to want to get that critical email before you hear "CODE BLUE" or "CORE BREACH" or "Deet-doo... Deet-doo... Deet-doo..."
But -- and the Macalope really hates to be the one to break it to you -- the odds are your job isn't so important that you can't wait another 14 minutes for an email.
Doesn't anyone call anymore? It is a phone after all.
2. The iPhone doesn't have third-party apps.
Dignan seems to think the SDK coming early next year "may alleviate the situation". The Macalope will go not very far out on a limb and say that not too long after the SDK's release, the iPhone will have better third-party applications than any other cell phone platform (unless Apple supplies some kind of broken authentication model).
3. You can't encrypt data on an iPhone.
As Goble notes, other "enterprise phones" don't encrypt data either. Also, it's a really good thing that enterprises make sure every laptop and cell phone they currently hand out is encrypted.
That's a joke. They don't, of course, which is why you hear so many stories about social security numbers and medical records and human genomes being lifted from stolen laptops. Many enterprises do encrypt for users who have really sensitive data, but not all phones need to be encrypted.
4. The iPhone can't be erased remotely if it's stolen.
No, but Goble believes for his business the ability to delete the user account is good enough. Dignan says Sarbanes-Oxley "will put the kibosh on iPhone adoption in some companies". Probably. But Sarbanes-Oxley doesn't say anywhere that companies must be able to remotely erase cell phones. It's about mitigating risk and documenting control points. Again, for some companies the iPhone isn't a fit, but for many it is.
5. The iPhone's software keyboard leads to input errors.
Dignan smacks this down perfectly:
This complaint is a red herring. I don't see it being an enterprise issue. Cubicle jockeys with a hard keypad still send mobile emails that don't make a lot of sense.
6. The iPhone is tied to AT&T.
AT&T needs to open the iPhone to business accounts. But this has little to do with one of the key concerns of Forrester's piece -- how to answer users who ask IT to support their iPhones. Also, while AT&T's lack of support for businesses is a "headache", Goble manages to deal with it creatively by using several family accounts.
7. The iPhone is too expensive.
Hey, know what's more expensive? Deploying difficult-to-use phones to average users and then having them avoid using them because they can't figure them out. The Macalope has seen it happen again and again. IT loves deploying Treos and Blackberries with dozens of tiny little keys that can do anything! Yay, technology!
And then the executive leaves it in her drawer.
8. The iPhone is still in its first generation.
So what? What if -- as it is -- it presents a compelling business case based on ease-of-use, feature set and the fact that users are more likely to use it?
Dignan says that European companies will want to wait for a 3G version. Fine. But again, just because the iPhone isn't appropriate for some companies does not mean it's not appropriate for all companies.
9. No removable battery.
What company is going to be trapped into a loop of buying iPhones repeatedly?
This never crossed Goble's mind. When pressed, he asked us how many spare batteries we carried around for our BlackBerry.
Indeed. What is Dignan saying, that iPhone batteries are known to repeatedly fail and that such failure is out of warranty? That's ludicrous. IT departments are going to get AppleCare and they're going to swap out the phone before the battery life becomes an issue anyway.
10. There aren't any examples of companies deploying the iPhone.
Except for Goble's company. Hey, you know who writes those white papers on how to successfully deploy technologies? Companies like Forrester. They could have written one o' them fancy papers, but they're more interested in providing cover for knee-jerk IT department reactions to anything with an Apple logo on it. Remember when "IT professionals" were warning companies about how dangerous iPods were? Flash drives were fine as long as they didn't have an Apple logo on them.
This is not a list of reasons. It's a list of excuses. In Forrester's defense, giving IT excuses not to deploy Apple technology probably sells more reports.
There are definitely going to be situations where the iPhone is not appropriate. But there are also situations where deploying the iPhone would present a compelling business case.
It's not so much that the iPhone isn't ready for the enterprise, it's that the enterprise isn't ready for the iPhone.