March 7, 2008 11:00 AM PST
Week in review: iPhone answers business calls
Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled enterprise-friendly features and a roadmap for third-party developers to create applications for Apple's iPhone.
Apple has licensed the Microsoft ActiveSync protocol, which will make it much easier to do push e-mail and contacts with Exchange servers. Until now, iPhone users who wanted to get e-mail on their iPhones had to jump through a series of technical hoops. And as a result, a lot of business users, who would have otherwise bought the iPhone right away, have stood on the sidelines with their BlackBerrys or Windows Mobile phones drooling at the iPhone.
The announcement is a huge deal for Apple, because it eliminates one of the barriers the company faced in addressing the business market. It also made the iPhone more appealing to a group known as prosumers, people who buy their own cell phones for personal use, but also access some business applications, such as corporate e-mail, on their phones.
Other new features include Cisco Systems' IPSec virtual private network technology (IPSec is an encryption standard), "remote wipe" technology that can erase sensitive data if an iPhone is lost or stolen, and better wireless security with 802.1x support. (For complete information on all the new features, read News.com's roundup.)
Developers will get access to the iPhone for $99 a year, as part of Apple's iPhone Developer Program. The program, however, will only be available to U.S. developers at first, and only "a limited number" of developers at that. Apple declined to elaborate on the exact definition of "limited." A separate $299 "enterprise" developer program will be available for corporations creating in-house applications.
CNET News.com readers debated the value of Apple's move; at least one reader wanted to revisit issues on the minds of many iPhone users.
"It's fairly certain that whatever Apple's plan is, it isn't going to be enough to satisfy the thousands of homebrew iPhone application users," wrote one News.com reader. "Will Apple continue to release updates that attempt to prevent these users from utilizing their iPhones as they wish?"
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers jumped into the fray by creating a so-called iFund to invest in "Apple entrepreneurs" developing applications for the iPhone and the iPod Touch. The $100 million will fund several new companies that develop software or services on the Apple platform.
In search of search dominance
Yahoo's resolve in fending off Microsoft's unsolicited buyout bid may to be softening. Early Monday, Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell told attendees at Morgan Stanley's Technology Conference that Yahoo had not formally responded to its buyout bid and the software giant was keeping an eye out for other acquisitions.
That same day, Yahoo's board of directors voted to extend the deadline to nominate opposition candidates to its board of directors, a move that will likely delay a hostile proxy fight with Microsoft. The deadline had previously been set for March 14, but now will be extended to a new deadline of 10 days after Yahoo announces the date for its shareholders meeting.
"As the company has not yet announced the date of this year's annual meeting, the amendment will give stockholders who want to nominate one or more directors, including Microsoft Corporation, more time to do so. The amendment does not preclude any party from nominating one or more directors at any time prior to the new deadline," the company said in a statement.
The take-away from this action, says News.com's Dawn Kawamoto, is that Yahoo still wants to keep Microsoft close, and friendly. Yahoo finds it wise to give Microsoft more time before it has to present its hostile slate of directors. The move also gives the Internet search pioneer more time to consider its options and other suitors, without putting undue pressure on Microsoft to go hostile.
Yahoo has rejected Microsoft's acquisition bid, saying it undervalues the company. The $31-a-share price at the time of the bid is now worth $28.62 because of a drop in Microsoft's share price.
Yahoo also may be talking to Time Warner on a deal designed to thwart Microsoft's bid. Under a possible deal, Yahoo would acquire Time Warner's AOL in exchange for the media conglomerate taking a large minority stake in the combined company, unidentified sources told The Wall Street Journal.
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