10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple iPhone

Forrester Research says IT departments should refuse to support Apple iPhones, even if CEOs are the ones asking to use the devices for access to corporate networks and systems.

Thu, December 13, 2007

CIO — The Apple iPhone took the consumer mobile space by storm when it was released last June and quickly became one of the most popular smartphones available. Since then, business users who've purchased the device for their personal use have been requesting that their corporate IT departments support it.

Whether the iPhone proves to be a valuable business tool or a non-issue for CIOs remains to be seen, but a new report from Forrester Research suggests that the iPhone may never get a chance to succeed in business. Forrester says IT departments should refuse to support the devices--at least for now--for the following 10 reasons.

1) The iPhone Doesn't Allow Data on the Device to be Encrypted

There's currently no way for enterprises to secure sensitive data on iPhones through file or disk encryption, according to Forrester. There's also no way for IT to enforce password policies since the decision to use a password (and when to change it) is up to the user.

2) The iPhone Does Not Natively Support "Push" Corporate E-mail or Wireless Calendar Syncing

Push e-mail (e-mail that is delivered to handhelds immediately upon receipt in a user's mailbox) is an essential feature for a business device because of the productivity such a feature enables, according to Forrester. If users need to physically retrieve messages--as opposed to having those messages pushed directly to them--they won't get them as quickly as possible and they'll waste time in the process. The iPhone can sync with Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes over IMAP and SMTP, Forrester says, but IT infrastructure must be tweaked accordingly or a separate gateway product must be purchased and even then mail is delivered only every 15 minutes.

Apple iPhone touch screen virtual keyboard
The Apple iPhone

Apple's device also doesn't wirelessly sync with PCs, which means users must have access to the company's proprietary USB sync cable to retrieve calendar updates or contact changes, according to Forrester. If a meeting plan or location has been changed at the last minute, an iPhone user on the go could easily not get the notification in time.

3) The iPhone Does Not Run Third-Party Applications Without Voiding Its Warranty

Though Apple has promised a software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone so that external developers and businesses can create their own applications to run on the device, the iPhone does not currently support such applications--unless certain device components are hacked, which voids the phone's warranty. Companies that deploy, for example, sales force automation apps on mobile devices won't be able to port those applications to the iPhone until this issue is resolved.

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