Apple’s next generation iPhone 3G smartphone is set to hit retail store shelves this Friday, but many questions about the much anticipated device are still unanswered, at least from a business standpoint. For instance: How will organizations and businesses activate the iPhone 3G, and will a trip to an Apple or AT&T store be required?
Thanks to a brief message I just received from AT&T Spokesperson Seth Bloom, I can shed a bit of light on the subject.
From the message:
In general, enterprise customers will get their iPhone 3G through their normal IT processes. This will ensure that their business can take advantage of any corporate discounts that may apply. Activation will work this way:
* If your company has a corporate contract with AT&T and pays the bill for your iPhone 3G: Your IT department will provide you with iPhone 3G, just as it does any other device. Then, all you need to do is synch it to iTunes from your computer and it will be good to go. You do not need to go to an AT&T retail store.
* If you pay the bill for your iPhone 3G: Buy iPhone 3G in an AT&T retail store. Give the salesperson your company’s contract number with AT&T and the device will be activated. (Apple stores will not be able to set up accounts with service discounts.)
So to sum that up, corporate users who don’t pay their own smartphone bills will not have to visit Apple or AT&T, but they will need to sync their devices with an iTunes account.
Interesting, but I’m still wondering how IT departments that ban or discourage the use of iTunes on their corporate machines will activate the iPhone 3G devices and distribute mobile applications. Will an IT person have to activate each and every device using a machine with a sanctioned iTunes account? Whenever new applications or upgrades are deployed, will users all have to turn their devices in to that one iTunes guy? If so, that’ll get old very quickly…
I immediately shot a question to Mr. Bloom on the subject, but haven’t yet heard back. I’ll post the answer from AT&T in the comments section below as soon as I get one.