Apple’s iPhone resets the bar for technology hype. One mobile industry analyst goes so far as to call Apple’s new iPhone the "most anticipated phone since Alexander Graham Bell did his."
As the iPhone makes its debut, we’re going to stay down to earth and try to answer this question: Will the iPhone infiltrate corporate America? To read why it very well could, read on. To scan a list of reasons why it won't, see here. We invite you to read both lists and tell us what you think is going to happen with iPhones in the enterprise.
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Why the iPhone Is the Single Most Important Thing to Happen to CIOs This Year 1. It’s Unlike Anything Else Out There
It’s aesthetically pleasing, to put it mildly. The user interface is breathtaking, the graphics are beautiful, the design is cooler than cool and the functionality is impressive—a mobile phone, touch screen keyboard, video and music player, Web browser, camera, e-mail and more, all in one sleek device. I particularly like the "accelerometer," which, according to Apple's site, "detects when you rotate the device from portrait to landscape, then automatically changes the contents of the display, so you immediately see the entire width of a webpage or a photo in its proper landscape aspect ratio."
David Pogue, the The New York Times technology critic, is one of a few people who has held an iPhone. He writes: "The bigger achievement [of the iPhone] is the software. It’s fast, beautiful, menu-free, and dead simple to operate. You can’t get lost, because the solitary physical button below the screen always opens the homepage, arrayed with icons for the iPhone’s 16 functions."
Pogue goes on: "You’ve probably seen Apple’s ads, showing how things on the screen have a physics all their own. Lists scroll with a flick of your finger, CD covers flip over as you flick them, e-mail messages collapse down into a trash can. Sure, it’s eye candy. But it makes the phone fun to use, which is not something you can say about most cell phones."
According to a recent advisory report (“Mobile Devices") from market researcher CurrentAnalysis, the market is Apple’s for the taking. "The iPhone stands apart because of Apple’s brand, a unique UI, storage, functionality, marketing, and the fact that the fiercest competitors in the high-end media phone space have unwisely chosen to give Apple the U.S. market all to itself," the report states.
2. Unbounded Curiosity
If iPhone purchases can spread outside of the core Apple audience (those zealots who will be buying one no matter the cost), then it has a great chance of promulgating inside today’s enterprises. CIOs will find that there’s just too many users to say "no" to. A survey by M:Metrics cited by Computerworld estimated that 19 million U.S. cell phone users would be willing to pay $599 (8GB model) for the iPhone, which, it was reported, was nearly double the price Apple says it will sell the device by the end of 2008.
"I have both a Mac and a PC, and I want one," says Steven Sommer, CIO of law firm Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, which has 330 lawyers worldwide and is a BlackBerry-only shop. A small portion of his users are excited about it. "They’re definitely curious," he notes. However, "I don’t know if it’s going to get in the mainstream at a law firm," Sommer says. Sommer adds that he doesn’t plan to let the iPhone onto his systems now—but that could change in the future.
3. The iPod
Look no further than the success that Apple has enjoyed with the iPod, and how that one device has created a huge market for MP3 players and legal digital-song downloads. While the Mac has between 3 percent to 4 percent of PC market share overall (Apple claims 12 percent of U.S. notebook sales), Apple has also sold 100 million iPods, mostly to Windows users, according to the CurrentAnalysis advisory report. "Even discounting iPod replacement sales, Apple fans are no small fringe group of zealots. Given the success of iTunes TV show and movie downloads, there should be a reasonable market for the iPhone just as the first widescreen iPod," it states.
Can it be done with the iPhone? According to that previously mentioned survey, there are 19 million people who seem to think so.
4. Executives Such as Fidelity’s Joseph Ferra
In a presentation in May at Computerworld’s Mobile & Wireless World conference, Joseph Ferra, Fidelity’s chief wireless officer, said he welcomes the iPhone and any other mobile device that users want to connect to the company’s Web-based systems. To him, multimedia applications on mobile devices are just another way that Fidelity can serve its customers. For example, Ferra said that he can see a time in the not-so-distant future when a device such as the iPhone will allow Fidelity to deliver "a market recap video from its analysts to investors at the end of each day," according to a Computerworld article.
Even today, Ferra says Fidelity’s Web-based Fidelity Anywhere mobile tools allow customers to receive market data, including real-time stock quotes or alerts, access their 401(k) accounts, make trades or check portfolio balances, among other things, on their mobile devices. "And people want to do more," Ferra says.
5. Perfect Timing: Wireless Multimedia Is Warming Up
According to a recent In-Stat report ("Will Stingy U.S. Multimedia Phone Users Turn Japanese?"), there has been a sizeable increase in the number of multimedia phones purchased in the United States that can play MP3 tracks and video files (from 15 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2007). Mobile device manufacturers have been keeping the marketplace stocked with devices that can straddle both the consumer and corporate lines—BlackBerry’s Curve, Motorola’s Q, Palm’s Treo 750 and Samsung’s BlackJack.
CIOs and their mobilized workers have started incorporating (or making plans to incorporate) text and instant messaging applications as well as location-based services—for example, GPS-enabled devices that give directions—into their fleets of mobile devices. In addition, In-Stat data ("Wireless Business Use: The Overlooked Profit Machine") shows a less-wired and more-wireless business world in the near future: U.S. corporations' spending on wireless voice and mobile data services will exceed business spending on all wire line voice and data services by the year 2010.
Taken together, all of that data shows that there could be a warm and welcoming home for the iPhone in the enterprise.