The Second Coming of the ‘Jesus Phone’
In the last few days news has been slowly trickling out regarding the future of the iPhone. AT&T in the U.S has started allowing iPhones on corporate accounts, IBM announced a native Lotus Notes for the iPhone. Is ‘Big Business’ finally going to get what it wants regarding the iPhone?
I think Apple has successfully completed ‘Phase 1’ of the iPhone: get normal consumers interested in it, give them (for the most part) a lot of whizz-bang features that are easy to use. Apple doesn’t need to make a big noise now about new ‘consumer-orientated’ apps and so we move to ‘Phase 2’: Get Business involved and wanting the iPhone. Why would a company like IBM bother making noise about it’s Lotus Notes if it didn’t think that there will be a relatively large and quick takeup of the software? Because this Phase is the Holy Grail. Businesses spend REAL MONEY on solutions that work. The iPhone has had interest from the business community till now, but too many pieces were missing. The usual reasons are lack of integration into the typical business-IT-infrastructure. Namely no Exchange support, and no OTA sync.
This will all change in a few weeks. Once the iPhone has a featureset that gets even close to matching the usual suspects (Blackberry, WinMob) ability to integrate into Corporate-I.T then we will start to see takeup on a much larger scale in business.
All this makes complete sense to Apple’s ideology: Apple does the initial launch of a device, squarely aimed at consumers. Apple’s expertise is in getting normal people talking about it’s devices. It has succeeded in this regard. So now Apple hands over to an area it has no real interest in, nor the ability to ‘sway’ opinions (Big Business). The device is opened up via the SDK, and suddenly the iPhone is no longer ‘Apple’s Toy’. It’s a pocket computer fully capable of doing whatever businesses need or desire. And it’s a pleasure to use (meaning more productive workers) so businesses get some ‘payback’ for investing or developing for the iPhone. Again, everybody wins.
I expect an initial ‘land grab’ from developers all trying to make the default business tools for the iPhone. Lots of versions of programs that do essentially the same thing: integrate the iPhone into the business world. Some will falter, but a few apps will rise to the top, get an excellent record and become the de-facto standard for business.
Expect more integration into Apple’s own OSX Server. I cannot say more (as I am under an Apple NDA), but things will get better, they always do.