HSBC to Bank on iPhone 3G as Corporate Smartphone, Ditch BlackBerry?
By Al Sacco
The battle between Apple’s iPhone 3G and Research In Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry smartphone rages on in both the business and consumer markets, but international banking giant HSBC may soon deal the BlackBerry a substantial blow in the enterprise: On Tuesday, Brenton Hush, CIO for HSBC’s Australia and New Zealand division, told ZDNet.com.au that his company is considering ditching the BlackBerry for the iPhone 3G.
Though not official, such a decision could result in the one of the largest enterprise iPhone purchases to date. HSBC currently employs some 300,000 staffers worldwide, and according to Hush, as many as 200,000 iPhones could be purchased to replace the company’s current fleet of BlackBerrys.
Since the first-generation iPhone’s release in June 2007, Apple’s smartphone has been constantly compared to RIM’s BlackBerry devices. Though Apple originally targeted a mostly-consumer demographic with the first-generation iPhone, it made gains in the enterprise space in recent months with the release of the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software upgrade, which includes Microsoft Exchange support and a number of heightened security safeguards.
A purchase of 200,000 iPhone devices, though noteworthy, surely isn’t enough to sink RIM’s ship, or even seriously slow its sales momentum in the smartphone space, but such a large scale deployment could certainly be detrimental to RIM in less obvious ways. For example, if HSBC goes ahead with the deployment, it will represent one the first major corporate iPhone distributions and, if successful, could herald a large number of followers.
Forrester Research’s has published advice on the top 10 reasons IT should not support the iPhone: among them, there’s no proof that iPhones are viable business devices, Forrester says. A successful deployment at HSBC would change that, and such an example could be the foot in the corporate door that Apple needs.
When asked if he thought the BlackBerry has any clear advantage over the iPhone—QWERTY keyboard or otherwise—Hush, who doesn’t currently own an iPhone but has experience with the devices, said no, excluding some enterprise infrastructure considerations.
With HSBC’s global annual technology budget of $6 billion and an IT department made up of 30,000 staffers supporting some 300,000 employees, according to ZDNet.com.au, an HSBC iPhone deployment would be sure to catch the attention of many a curious CIO. You can bet crowds of technology decision makers will be keeping a eye on Hush and HSBC, eagerly awaiting news on whether or not it goes ahead with the iPhone deployment and, if so, taking cues from the results.