updated 11:25 am EDT, Thu April 19, 2007
Microsoft on iPhone
The underlying philosophy for the iPhone will make it all but superfluous in the working world, a Microsoft executive told journalists during a press event in Australia. Although initially welcoming the Apple handset as a media device, Asia-Pacific smartphone strategy head Chris Sorenson was quick to rule out the device almost entirely for business, noting that Apple's walled-off approach to software was virtually bound to lock out iPhones from corporate offices and users who want to view files from work while on the go.
"It's a closed device that you cannot install applications on, and there's no support for Office documents," he said. "If you're an enterprise and want to roll out line of business applications, it's just not an option. Even using it as a heavy messaging device will be a challenge."
Sorenson added that the iPhone's interfaced differences might also deter businesses, which he argued would prefer the familiar look of Windows Mobile 6 and the ability to install new software without explicit approval from the handset maker. Version 6 of Microsoft's smartphone suite also frequently includes Office Mobile for editing or viewing common Office files.
Microsoft's comments echo those made about the Mac's ultimate lack of success in the corporate world for much of its lifespan, which was frequently dictated by proprietary hardware and software that would not interoperate with other file formats or corporate networks. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has so far argued that stability is the motivator behind limiting iPhone software support as bugs and crashes could be far more catastrophic on an essential device.
Apple has to date made few open concessions to business use with its Mac OS X-driven device, so far only adding "push" e-mail for Yahoo accounts as well as support for IMAP-based Microsoft Exchange accounts commonly used in the workplace. No talk has surfaced of either a mobile version of Office for Mac or an equivalent, though Jobs upon the iPhone's introduction said he would be willing to add new in-house software in the future for various functions.