Top 10 reasons IT won't support the iPhone

December 13, 2007: 9:12 AM ET

picture-6.jpgWondering why your corporate Information Technology department won't buy you an Apple (AAPL) iPhone or support the one you bought yourself? Here's your answer.

Or, rather, 10 answers. Channeling the thought processes of IT managers who don't need many excuses not to support yet another platform, Forrester Research(FORR) has put together the definitive top 10 reasons not to support this one -- fully documented, complete with footnotes. Why now, just when the device seems to be making back-door inroads into the workplace? That's why.

Forrester predicts that the iPhone will find its way into many enterprise environments — if it hasn't already — because C-level executives are buying them and expecting support from IT. It's only a matter of time before the iPhone filters down the corporate pyramid, and IT should have a strategy to handle these requests. ... You'll get complaints from your most enthusiastic Apple fans — and let's be honest, what Apple fans aren't enthusiastic? Be ready with a business case as to why your mobile operations team made this strategic business decision.

What follows is a window into the world of the IT manager. Alternatively, you can think of it as a checklist of the issues Apple must address if it wants the iPhone to be accepted as an enterprise-worthy device.

Without further ado, excerpts from the top 10 reasons Forrester recommends that IT not support the iPhone:

  1. Doesn't natively support push business email or over-the-air calendar sync. ... The iPhone can sync with Microsoft's Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes over IMAP and SMTP ports, but your server and security admins have to configure their infrastructure to do so or purchase a mobile gateway from Synchronica or Azaleos....

  2. Doesn't accommodate third-party applications, including those internally developed. ... This is a showstopper for companies with enterprise mobility initiatives that require line-of-business applications like mobile sales force automation or an industry-specific application like mobile claims...

  3. Doesn't support securing data on the device through encryption. There is no way for a company to natively secure the data on an iPhone with file or disk encryption...
  4. Can't be remotely locked or wiped in the event of a lost or stolen device. ...there is no way for IT to lock a device if — scratch that, when — users call the help desk and explain that they left their non-password-protected iPhone behind in a taxi...

  5. Lacks a hard keypad that provides feedback, which isn't ideal for rapid and accurate input. ... Many respected journalists have come to the conclusion that ultimately the keyboard "is a nonissue,"

    but only after five days of use. In speaking with enterprise-class mobile device users on a daily basis, the vast majority have found that they need some form of tactile feedback from their QWERTY or numeric keyboards. ...

  6. Has limited service provider support and its carrier lock-in inhibits flexibility. ...To date, Apple has officially announced four exclusive carriers for France (Orange), Germany (T- Mobile), the UK (O2), and the United States (AT&T). Outside of these countries, the iPhone isn't available yet...

  7. Comes with a premium price tag. ...Sourcing analysts rely on corporatewide discounts when they place a bulk order with their carrier, but AT&T will not sell the iPhone to business accounts — only consumers. Because the iPhone is purchased directly by the user, there's no taking advantage of the discount. Moreover, IT is stuck in an endless loop of reactively supporting the device, which limits the ability to provide best-in-class service....

  8. Is only the first generation. ...even Apple enthusiasts admit that there are some weaknesses they'd like to see fixed in future generations, like making it easier to activate the device, improving the battery life and sound quality, and, most importantly, allowing it to connect to higher-speed networks (3G) ...
  9. Lacks a removable battery, so when the battery kicks it, so does the device. ... Apple does not sell replacement batteries for the iPhone. So when the battery dies, so does worker productivity....

  10. Lacks case studies of firms that have deployed it enterprisewide. ... There is one known large enterprise that supports iPhones companywide, and it is Apple itself. Beyond that, we haven't heard of many enterprises that have embraced the iPhone as a corporate device. And, as tough as it is to admit, the most trusted advisors to IT operations professionals aren't industry analysts, journalists, or even the vendors themselves; it's your peers...

UPDATE on No. 1: AppleInsider reports today on a new company job listing at Apple for "a motivated, highly-technical Exchange test/sync engineer" to join a team focused on "testing Exchange and Outlook functionality with Apple's innovative new phone." The full listing is available here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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