Well, Apple finally did it. The iPhone is officially ready to be transformed into an enterprise application. On Thursday, the Mac maker announced it will offer full support for Microsoft's Exchange corporate server. This will enable Apple to bring push capabilities for e-mail, contacts, address lists, and other enterprise-grade features via a software update in June. This includes security features as well, like remote wipe, support for Cisco IPsec VPN, certificates, identities and WPA2/802.11x support.The move is probably partly in response to demands by customers in the enterprise market who were looking for a more robust device. They asked and Apple listened. Whether it will knock RIM's Blackberry from its throne as the corporate mobile access gizmo remains to be see, but it certainly has a good chance of doing so due to ActiveSync technology, which eliminates the middleman (RIM server) from the process of accessing one's corporate server.
Of course, I don't think RIM and Apple will be competing much on price since the devices themselves appear to be pretty comparable in that department, depending on storage capacity. It will come down to a war of features. However, Apple might have another a battle on its hands that's more cultural in nature. The Blackberry has been the staple of corporations for years. It's tried and true, in spite of any perceived shortcomings. Will the iPhone gain the same support and loyalty from corporate road warriors that is given to the Blackberry? The iPhone is certainly pretty, but it's also chock full of handy features in a fun, intuitive interface. I know from personal experience the differences in navigating an iPhone (in my case, an iPod Touch) versus a Blackberry (my husband's). The Blackberry certainly does what it's supposed to do, but there's just something about the iPhone interface that takes the user experience to the next level.
But what will an enterprise-enabled iPhone mean for banks? Well, FIs certainly approach all tech acquisitions with security top of mind. The enterprise-enabled iPhone doesn't seem to fall short in that department (see above). I especially like the remote wipe capability. Missing or stolen laptops and other portable devices are a plague on the FS industry. Now, network administrators can zero in on a lost iPhone and prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.
Plus, with the release of a software developer's kit by Apple (also part of Thursday's big announcement), the possibilities for creating applications for the iPhone (including banking-related apps) are endless. There is an m-banking audience out there using iPhones after all.
It will be interesting to watch the iPhone evolve from a "fun" device to a practical device and take its place in the boardrooms of the world. And what you do you think about using an iPhone for work? Speak up in the "comments" section. We'd enjoy hearing from you!Well, Apple finally did it. The iPhone is officially ready to be transformed into an enterprise application. But what will an enterprise-enabled iPhone mean for banks?