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AT&T pitching iPhone at business?

updated 10:10 am EDT, Tue April 24, 2007

ATT iPhone Business Pitch

AT&T (formerly Cingular) hopes to expand the appeal of the iPhone to businesses, sources near the cell provider claim. Although the iPhone has been typically promoted as an entertainment device, the carrier has reportedly changed its billing and support systems for business to handle the Apple device for companies that want to deploy it on a wider scale. An AT&T representative declined to provide additional details, but the news has nevertheless prompted a backlash from analysts, many of whom point to the phone's non-expandability as a red flag for businesses.

Experts primarily referred to the device's lack of third-party software, which was imposed by Apple as an attempt to control the experience but may ultimately limit the phone's appeal to businesses, which frequently depend on Office Mobile and similar tools for workers who travel often.

"Companies like to extend corporate apps to the mobile space," said Current Analysis mobile phone researcher Avi Greengart. "And in order to do that, you need an open OS." He didn't rule out the possibility of software being added to help the iPhone's appeal in workplaces but warned not to expect any by the June release date.

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney echoed the sentiment, noting that the choice of extra software for RIM's BlackBerry and the plurality of Windows Mobile smartphones made them better choices. He pointed out that hardware design, however, was at least as much of a problem for businesses. Most of the iPhone's design philosophy wouldn't be helpful to workers.

The lack of a replaceable battery is a potentially fatal flaw. "You'd be crazy to buy without that [option]," Dulaney commented, also noting that a separate media decoding processor might consume more energy than the sole CPU found in most phones.

The on-screen touch keypad might also make it difficult to dial while on the road, he said.

The collective criticism follows a similarly scathing response from Microsoft, which dismissed the iPhone as effectively useless to companies that needed extra software, suggesting instead that the handset would be a better choice as a media player than a productivity tool. Greengart agreed in his newer analysis, saying that companies who sign up with AT&T's business plans for the iPhone might be inadvertently pampering their employees with a media player they don't need.

"Could a company deploy this?" he asked. "They could, but they'd be paying for storage and for something intended for use as a consumer device."

by MacNN Staff




  1. whitakerg

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPhone for business

    I plan on purchasing an iPhone for personal use, however I can not use it for business due to the built in camera. I have the same issue with Mac laptops. I work in a military contractor facility and no cameras are allowed in the compound. Most sorporate environments would be reluctant to allow cameras in there facilities.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I can't wait... for all the options my TREO has the basics of contact management just don't work for me - I have learned to use spotlight which makes field defined searching obsolete...

  1. mmmdoughnuts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I Wonder

    if Apple employees are allowed to have camera phones? They are the *most* secret company. They of all companies know of this issue, but I suspect that will not stop the quick adoption of the phone even in the small business where such espionage is not a big deal.

  1. runcoberry

    Joined: Dec 1969


    this makes some sense

    if you look at the price and spec comparisons between the iphone and the blackberry 8800, they are about the same, well except for ms office and business email, which i imagine is important for business. i'm sure either apple or a hacker will find a way to fix this.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Company Apps.

    Perhaps the move to keep the iPhone closed not only works to ensure seemeless hardware operability, but to have people to try and usee apps. designed by Apple. While a move like this wouldn't be completely benevolent, who's to say people wouldn't find they like the Apple apps. more? Perhaps this, like iTMS, is meant to sell more hardware?

    A scenario: You like the iPhone? how easy it is to use? how stable and powerful it seems? Try this Mac here. Ah, see how simple that business task was, and how seemlessly the necessary data moved to the iPhone? It was even easy to understand, wasn't it? Perhaps our business could benefit from such a smooth and simple environment...

    You get the point.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not for business

    The iPhone is a consumer device and not for business, so this is a non-issue. How do I know this? Because when the MS idiot dissed the iPhone as a non-starter for businesses, everyone on these boards said so.

    Perhaps the move to keep the iPhone closed not only works to ensure seemeless hardware operability, but to have people to try and usee apps. designed by Apple. While a move like this wouldn't be completely benevolent, who's to say people wouldn't find they like the Apple apps. more? Perhaps this, like iTMS, is meant to sell more hardware?

    Well, that might be true, but it would be really short-sighted. If you can't get the apps you need/want on the iphone, why would you buy it at all?

  1. yakirz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Partially correct

    about the non-replaceable battery being a barrier. I just bought a battery for the Treo 650 I'm typing this on for $24.95 and will install it in about 30 seconds. How much will Apple sell a battery replacement service? $109, 1/4th or 1/5th the price of the device?

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPod spinoff

    IPone is a spin off from iPod. If smartphone is what Apple wants to create, they would have done it long ago ... but that's not their territory.

  1. benhur

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a couple things

    I hope the iPhone is developed for business. Sure it's a consumer device but there is a lot of potential there for a business device done right. That is, done the Apple way. It's software, there is no reason Apple couldn't provide a business solution using the same iPhone we are familiar with.

    Our business purchased over 70 blackberry's last year and plan another purchase this year. I would love to have an iPhone.

    Some are sure that the iPhone is only consumer device. It is a great consumer device but I don't understand their issue with it being a business device as well. There is a lot of potential and perhaps it would lead to other services that would be better supported by Apple servers.

    Also, someone asked about cameras on the Apple campus. I once visited a friend at Apple and I innocently took out my camera in the lobby to take a group photo and was immediately stopped by security. In the lobby. I think there are no cameras.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    As someone in IT

    I have to tell you guys that most IT departments are interested in locking down desktop/laptops and phone to the minimum amount of software required to perform their functions. They are not interested in providing endusers the ability to install whatever they want on their phones.

    As for inhouse apps, most of those are moving toward being web based so I don't see an issue with not being able to install any software you wish.

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