September 25, 2007 6:34 AM PDT

U.K. businesses see barriers to iPhone adoption

U.K. businesses see barriers to iPhone adoption
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Bosses in the U.K. are not planning to make the iPhone available to employees as a corporate mobile option because of the phone's high price tag and network-operator restrictions.

Apple last week revealed details of the U.K. version of the iPhone, which will be available beginning November 9.

At an event in London, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs named O2 as the exclusive mobile operator for the iPhone, which will cost $543 in addition to a monthly contract ranging from $70 to $110.

Despite the cost, a poll of more than 700 readers by Silicon.com found that a third would switch to another mobile operator just to get their hands on an iPhone. The U.S. version, which operates on the AT&T wireless network, has already sold more than a million handsets in the first 74 days since it launched.

However, when Silicon.com asked the 12 members of a CIO Jury IT director panel whether they have plans to make the iPhone available to employees in the range of corporate phones they offer, only one said he would.

Ian Campbell, British Energy chief information officer, said his organization is planning to make the iPhone available to some staff. "It's likely to be at the executive end rather than general-purpose. A killer application or use would drive up demand," he said.

Tying the iPhone exclusively to O2 is one of the biggest barriers to corporate adoption, said Peter Birley, IT director at law firm Browne Jacobson. "Regardless of any functional benefit there may be," Birley said, "the restriction of one network provider would exclude it for us."

David Supple, director of IT and creative services at Ecotec, raised additional concerns. "Aside from the phone being limited to only one network, I can't see how this is a serious business tool, and I would have some concerns over staff being targeted for theft of what is a very desirable object," he said.

Michael Elliot, IT director at toy maker Hasbro UK, said the iPhone will be on a "watching brief" only for now. "We have an existing bulk contract currently with Vodafone and no plans to allow folks to stray from it in the near term. I expect to get pressure but early-adopter experience may not be all positive," he said.

The iPhone's price tag and lack of integration with Microsoft Exchange are the other issues for corporate IT departments.

"It's far too pricey. In a few months' time it may be a useable tool, but we'll have to see whether Microsoft Exchange integration is at all possible," said Nicholas Bellenberg, IT director at publisher Hachette Filipacchi UK.

If the response of the chief information officers is anything to go by, Research In Motion's BlackBerry shouldn't be under threat as a business communication tool.

"We use BlackBerrys and then lightweight laptops with 3G cards and VPN software for general connectivity," said Kevin Fitzpatrick, chief information officer at Sodexho UK. "Particular applications also have specific handheld devices. The iPhone would be seen as expensive and trendy rather than a corporate tool in our industry."

Asked whether he planned to allow the iPhone as a corporate phone, Andy Pepper, director of business IT at tea supplier The Tetley Group, simply said: "Not at that price."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
director of information technology, chief information officer, adoption, Apple iPhone, barrier

4 comments

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"Regardless of any functional benefit there may be"
Hey! it's a TELEPHONE!

Can it can place and recieve calls? Does it have a reasonable address book? Can it send and receive SMS, and email. Access to the internet would be good too.

These are the FUNCTIONAL reqirements of mobile handset, and you can address these for significantly less money that buying an iPhone.

The world has gone mad.
Posted by NickH (127 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Barriers disappear fast . . .
when the CEO comes in with an iPhone.

We didn't plan to support iPhones until they had been out for a while, but that changed when the boss rolled in with one the first week they were offered.

As it turns out the iPhone is a snap to support, and the number in our company is growing steadily.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where's the news here?
Seems like this article was published back in June, just substitute
U.K for U.S. A more interesting story, three months on, would be
whether the U.S. business embargo of the iPhone is as predicted, or
whether iPhones are, in fact, finding their way into the corporate
world.
Posted by stevebert (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPhones
This is absolutely crazy, the price of the iPhone is just too high, even for UK citizens. They should just get unlocked sets from e-commerce shops like <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iphone-singapore.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.iphone-singapore.com/</a> and they don't even need to get tied down to 1 telco, unlocked sets can work all around the world, and it's so much cheaper too getting them from <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.iphone-singapore.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.iphone-singapore.com/</a>
Posted by AlienEric (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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