Analysts: New IPhone Still Lacks Features IT Needs

The iPhone 3G S boasts remote data wipe, hardware-based encryption and the ability to be tethered to a laptop -- all important to business users. But analysts said it still fails to fulfill IT's key need: remote management capabilities.

Apple Inc.'s new iPhone 3G S adds several features -- remote data-wiping capabilities, hardware-based encryption and the ability to be tethered to a laptop -- that are aimed at boosting its rank among IT executives.

However, analysts interviewed after last week's unveiling of the new iPhone at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco said most IT managers are likely to shun the device until it can be controlled remotely.

The problem with the iPhone 3G S is "that you don't have a console to enforce corporate policies across an entire group of workers," said Kevin Burden, an analyst at ABI Research.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said that the iPhone 3G S also doesn't allow processing in the background, which would let IT administrators run management tools coveted by large enterprises such as financial firms bound by strict federal regulations.

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has suffered from "enterprise envy," said Steve Hilton, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc.

"Having been built for consumer segments, the iPhone now seeks the magic blue pill to extend into the enterprise," he said. "Remote wipe, encryption [and] tethering [are] necessary but not sufficient" to attract corporate IT managers.

The iPhone does have traction in a few large businesses, such as Kraft Foods and Oracle Corp., but the financial services industry has been hard to attract. Bank of America, for example, prefers to stay with Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry Enterprise Server because it includes centralized management tools.

Stephen Drake, an analyst at IDC, said third-party management tools for the iPhone are starting to emerge, but so far, most are hard to implement and use. Drake said he knows of some businesses that have backed off from iPhone plans because of management and security concerns.

Despite such reservations, Drake called the improvements for the enterprise "a good step" by Apple.

Apple didn't respond to requests for comment.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld 's print edition.

This story, "Analysts: New IPhone Still Lacks Features IT Needs" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Survey says! Share your insights in our 19th annual State of the CIO study