iPhone 4: Is It 'oyPhone' For IT Teams?

By  Susan Nunziata — June 07, 2010

Industry analysts are warning IT executives to brace themselves for a big kahuna wave of demand for iPhone 4 in the enterprise. At the same time, analysts agree that so far Apple has not clarified how the device itself or its new iOS4 operating system will really make it any easier than earlier versions when it comes to enterprise IT management.
 
The new device has several attractive features that industry analysts say are likely to spur further adoption among business users.Among these:
  • FaceTime, a WiFi-only video-calling feature that enables users to switch with a tap to the rear camera so they can show others what they are seeing;
  • 3.5-inch Retina display showing 326 pixels per inch, a density greater than the eye can see;
  • 802.11n WiFi, which enables the video calling bandwidth and could lend itself to integration into a corporation's unified communications setup;
  • Multitasking, which allows users to instantly switch between any of their apps while preserving battery life;
  • The addition of quad-band HSUPA to provide 7.2Mbps downlink and 5.8Mbps uplink capability;
  • Sturdier construction, with new chemically strengthened glass designed to make it more scratch-resistant, oil-resistant, and durable than previous iterations, plus an encircling stainless steel band.
However, enterprise functionality is one area that Apple CEO Steve Jobs "glossed over" in announcing the new iPhone on June 7, 2010, says Ken Dulaney, Distinguished Analyst at Gartner in Boston.
 
"We don't know any more than we did when OS 4 was announced earlier this year," says Dulaney. "It's always so difficult to extract that out of Apple. I thought they would give us more."
 
In a May 20, 2010, research note about OS4 (since renamed iOS4), Dulaney and co-writer John Girard highlight the following enterprise-oriented aspects:
  • Apple has introduced background processing, using task-specific modules with features that are managed by the operating system to preserve battery life.
  • Three of the announced background modules are relevant to enterprises: voice over IP (VoIP) service, push notifications and task finishing.
  • An improved e-mail client will improve usability. However, the extent to which true collaboration and social-networking will be incorporated into this client is unclear.
  • Apple has announced management application programming interfaces (APIs); however, exactly how these will work is still unknown.
  • Apple's mobile management service is still undefined. It may be server-based, providing broad management functions, or on-device, remaining restrictive by application.
  • Few details on enterprise-related features were provided, making it difficult to assess the iPhone platform for wider enterprise use.
While acknowledging that the enhancements are the most significant for the enterprise since the iPhone's debut, the May 20 research note concludes that "Apple continues to make incremental improvements for enterprise support and will widen its appeal to third parties and end users. The iPhone is still not at the level of the BlackBerry at its highest levels of security, or at the level of Microsoft when third-party products complement Windows Mobile. However, Apple's iPhone OS 4 enhancements are a step in the right direction."
 
Among the features that would benefit the enterprise, according to Dulaney, are FIPS certification for the crypto; a new social collaboration client; and additional background processing modules for security and management.

Latest + Greatest
None of this is likely to squelch demand. Eugene Signorini, Vice President, Enterprise Applications & Mobile Solutions with Yankee Group, in Boston, notes that tech-savvy business users are always going to gravitate toward the latest and greatest device.
 
"Among end-users themselves there may not be an overwhelming un-met need for video conferencing and higher-resolution functionality. But the trend of the sexiest consumer-oriented smartphones will continue, so IT administrators should be prepared for yet another wave of users wanting this device. In most cases, for end-users it's less about what the device can do for their company, and more about what the device can do for them personally."
 
Philippe Winthrop, Managing Director of The Enterprise Mobility Foundation, Boston, says that the new iPhone "will have an enormous impact on the consumerization of enterprise mobility. This will accelerate the consumerization of enterprise mobility."
 
With the addition of 802.11n, Winthrop notes, "There will be real-world scenarios where you'll be able to leverage the extra bandwidth, whether it's unified communications or video calling. 802.11n is a bigger pipe, and you'll be able to do things more quickly, download more quickly access enterprise apps more quickly -- that will become more interesting for the business user."

Dulaney adds that the video conferencing capabilities, as well as the ability of the caller to use the camera to show what they are seeing, could have clear use cases for field service, maintenance and repair, and other mobile worker activities where such visual consultations could save an organization time and money.

However, both Winthrop and Gartner's Dulaney note that the 802.11n antenna that can fit into a smartphone will not carry the same capabilities of the full 4x4 802.11n standard, in which four antennas on the device communicate with four antennas on the access point.
 
Instead, says Dulaney, in order to preserve battery life and space, most smartphones can only accommodate a single "n" antenna that can, at best, communicate with two antennas on the WiFi access point.
 
In addition, notes Winthrop, the version of "n" on the new iPhone operates on the 2.4 gigahertz.
 
All of this translates to WiFi uplink and downlink speeds that will not yet be ready to take advantage of the full data bandwidth of the 802.11n standard.
 
Speaking Of  Data
AT&T customers can choose from several monthly plans that start at $54.99 per month for individual plans with voice and data.
 
For families, customers can add additional iPhones to their FamilyTalk account starting ats $24.99 per month, providing voice and data service.
 
Small business customers may qualify for AT&T BusinessTalk, a shared minute plan specifically for small businesses. Companies can share up to 20,000 minutes per month among as many as 40 employees.
 
In addition, business customers and employees of many businesses are eligible for discounted service rates. For more information, customers can contact an AT&T business account representative or visit www.att.com/iphoneforbusiness.
 
iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS customers can choose one of AT&T's new data plans: DataPlus, which provides 200MB for $15, and DataPro which provides 2GB for $25.
 
Existing AT&T smartphone customers upgrading to iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS are not required to switch to a new plan, but can choose to do so.
 
iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G customers can add tethering to AT&T DataPro for an additional $20 per month. Each data plan includes unlimited Wi-Fi usage at more than 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots nationwide at no additional charge.
 
AT&T says it will help customers monitor and manage wireless data usage by sending text messages and emails as customers begin to approach their usage limit, and by providing online tools, including an iPhone app that shows monthly usage information.
 
Currently, 98%of AT&T smartphone customers use less than 2 GB a month on average, according to the company.
 
ABI Research senior analyst Michael Morgan notes that with the 3GS and the iPhone 4 models available, the Apple is now delivering a truly tiered smartphone portfolio that can address both entry level consumers and leading edge prosumers.
 
But he adds a caveat: "In addition to new hardware and software, US consumers who are considering a switch to the iPhone 4 with tethering will also have to contend with the new tiered data plans recently announced by AT&T. The new iPhone has a lot to offer, but iPhone newcomers must decide whether it is worth the risk of a limited data plan for a data-hungry device."
 
Morgan adds, "Are multitasking and limited data plans a good mix?"
 
In addition, there's the 4G future to consider. Clearwire's WiMax rollout continues, while Verizon is prepping its rollout of LTE for 2011.
 
"Video obviously becomes more of a reality with LTE and WiMax," says Yankee Group's Signorini. "But carriers still will have to consider bandwidth and data consumption in the equation before going all-out with video for their customers. It's not just about technology capabilities. AT&T's recent pricing moves, and the WiFi-only limitations of video for iPhone 4, show that there's a lot to be worked out in terms of pricing and business models first."
 
The Details
iPhone 4 comes in either black or white and will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 (US) for the 16GB model and $299 (US) for the 32GB model in both Apple and AT&T's retail and online stores, Best Buy and Wal-Mart stores.
 
iPhone 4 will be available in the US, France, Germany, Japan and the UK on June 24, 2010, and customers can pre-order their iPhone 4 beginning Tuesday, June 15, from the Apple Online Store or reserve an iPhone 4 to pick up at an Apple Retail Store.
 
Also on June 24, a new iPhone 3GS 8GB model will be available for $99. iOS 4 software will be available on June 21 as a free software update (via iTunes 9.2 or later) for iPhone and iPod touch customers.
 
iPhone 4 will roll out worldwide to 88 countries by the end of September. iPhone 4 will be available by the end of July in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
 
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