September 4, 2007 9:47 AM PDT

Gartner: Expect an enterprise iPhone

Apple might start making enterprise-class iPhones or incorporate more enterprise-friendly features into existing models, a Gartner analyst has predicted.

Gartner previously dismissed the idea of iPhones becoming business tools, but the analyst group seems to be warming to the possibility.

"I would expect Apple in the future might see some potential in the enterprise market and maybe have devices for enterprise users, or maybe just add to their phone some of the features which would make the device more reasonable for an enterprise deployment," said Monica Basso, research director at Gartner. "Certainly the support for (the Microsoft synchronization program) ActiveSync is one of these, (as is) independence from the carrier."

Basso said that enterprises' need for flexibility meant different back-end servers would need to be supported, and suggested that a licensing of Microsoft's mobile-synchronization software would make the iPhone more attractive to businesses using the company's Exchange Server messaging software.

"The Exchange e-mail server is the market leader...I would expect in the future it might happen that we see Apple licensing the ActiveSync software to support direct push on their phones, as Nokia and other manufacturers have done," Basso said in an interview on Tuesday. "It is not impossible despite the fact that Apple and Microsoft don't look like partners. There would be some mutual benefits for both of them."

Despite her predictions, Basso said the potential for security problems would render the current version of the iPhone unsuitable for enterprise use.

"If I look at the iPhone, I see it more as a new threat for enterprises (than) something that is secure. There is little support nowadays from a security standpoint that can be put on the iPhone. It doesn't support any of the enterprise mobile e-mail solutions. It doesn't support Exchange direct push. The only thing that is supported (are e-mail clients) that can be connected to POP3 or IMAP4 servers, which cannot be connected to e-mail servers that sit behind the firewall. This exposes the e-mail server in a way that is not considered secure."

Basso also suggested that the iPhone's lack of standardized push e-mail support might lead users to forward their corporate e-mail to a commercial service such as Yahoo, which could create further security headaches.

However, she conceded that the approach taken by companies offering iPhone-based enterprise application access through the phone's Safari browser--WebEx and NetSuite being two examples--could reduce the exposure to security threats because less data is stored on the device itself. Gartner predicts that, in 2012, 10 million smart phones containing corporate data will be lost or stolen.

Analysts at Butler Group have also raised concerns that, without proper administration of the use of iPhones in businesses, the device will be "user pushed" into companies by owners seeking to integrate their work and personal-management tools.

The iPhone is currently distributed only in the U.S. Rumors suggest the device will make its U.K. debut later this year through the mobile operator O2.

Neither Apple nor Microsoft could offer immediate comment.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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Gartner Inc., enterprise, e-mail server, Apple iPhone, Apple Computer

9 comments

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Only POP3 or IMAP4 servers?
The vast majority of email servers in the world are POP3 or IMAP4 servers, and the iPhone will connect to them using SSL. So from a security standpoint it's no different than any other modern email client we support.

Our CEO bought one the first week they were available. He took it home, synced it to his MacBook Pro which automatically set up all his accounts. He hasn't needed any help from the IT department yet. We didn't even know he had one for a couple of weeks.

Believe me, iPhones are already in the enterprise.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
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Not exacty true..
The vast majority of enterprise level businesses do not allow pop3/IMAP connections to their internal email servers. They have some solution like blackberry or windows mobile for push services. Pass through sync with a desktop connection is not an Enterprise level solution and I would expect Apple to have an ActiveSync option soon.
Posted by MMC Racing (168 comments )
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And what happens when he loses it?
The argument is not so much access to the server or what protocol they are using (as long as it is secure) but when he reports it missing (stolen, lost, etc) then what is the company going to say about all of it's confidential information getting into the wrong hands?
People pay $599 for an iPhone but an iPhone with competitors proprietary information on it...$Pricele$$.
We encourage our taveling execs to use BlackBerry devices through our BlackBerry Enterprise Server. That means that if a device is reported missing or stolen we can remotely wipe it, lock it, and/or disable it as soon as it is reported and watch it happen in real-time.
Posted by fred dunn (793 comments )
Link Flag
Lost or stolen phones is the primary concern when it comes to making the iphone "enterprise ready". However, there are hosts of software providers offering remote wipe/lock software for the iphone. For example, <a href=http://www.air-watch.com>AirWatch Mobile Device Management</a> offers remote wipe/lock for the iphone plus a whole range of device management functionality, and I doubt they are the only ones.

Enterprise adoption of the iphone should take off once companies realize the feasibility and necessity of securing sensitive corporate data on mobile phones.
Posted by wifiguru2 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Clueless
When will people give up the notion that Apple needs to be
everything to everyone? Clearly, they company is making cash hand
over fist creating products for Joe Public. Get a clue Gartner.
Posted by TNCLR (8 comments )
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Legacy mail systems like Exchange
To say something like ms exchange, lotus notes, or any other
legacy e-mail system can stop the march of technology is simply a
wish on the part of an organization like Gartner. Business no
longer drives technology, it is the consumer market. Sorry
consumers do not listen to Gartner or fund it.
Posted by justageek (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is getting tirering
to hear all these comments and 'studies' about the iPhone and
the entreprise.

If IT Managers ran the business, we would all be using
mainframes or minis with terminals. X.25 would be our
communication medium - granted we could be running it on
lines faster than 19200 bps, and mobile phones would not really
be allowed to access data.
I understand that. Part of their jobs is to make sure that
company data is secure.

But, they don't run the business. IT department had to adapt to
the market, and this trend is likely to accelerate.

I don't understand how people like Gartner consultants and
other 'experts' cannot grasp the mere elements of 'real world' IT.
The job of a GOOD IT Manager is to make sure that its IT
infrastructure and purpose is ready for any new oportunity.
And any threat can become an oporunity

'Entreprise-ready iPhone' is not the way to approach it. The way
to approach it is 'iPhone-ready entreprise'.
Posted by jmdunys (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hasn't Anyone Heard of the Blackberry?
Some negative comments on forums really amaze me.

...like the guy who says IT mgrs would make us use only mainframes & green screen CRTs.

...the guys who comment that Gartner doesn't have a clue is another. Gartner's JOB is to write reports. If Gartner was right all the time, we could all retire early using their forecasts.

Anyway, here's the thing that matters, there's a product called the Blackberry that, in some ways, is one-of-a-kind, and very suitable for the enterprise. An enterprise iPhone would create serious competition with Blackberry in the ever-more mobile world we live in.

Some people think Apple ought to stop trying to "be everything to everyone." But strategically, Apple MUST come up with new products: iMacs, printers, wireless routers, and accessories won't cut it. Last year (I can't find this year's figures right now), Apple's market share of personal computers was 2%...negative no growth...down from 2.2%

Apple shareholders expect the company to GROW. iPods & iPhones are excellent products to make that happen for some time to come.

If I were you, I'd buy Apple stock. :)
Posted by rickbbell (18 comments )
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