updated 06:20 pm EDT, Thu June 18, 2009
iPhone for enterprise
With the new iPhone 3.0 firmware, Apple has continued to develop the platform for enterprise use. The company has issued an enterprise deployment guide (PDF) for system administrators to integrate the iPhone or iPod touch. Although the initial launch focused on consumer features, the company quietly added a variety of capabilities specifically geared for business users.
The 3.0 firmware now supports CalDAV calendar sync, LDAP servers for contact sharing, Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP), on-demand certificate-based VPNs and proxy configurations, along with additional ActiveSync capabilities and APN proxy settings. Exchange support has also been expanded, enabling users view reply statuses or invite others to meetings.
Along with the updated functionality, Apple also provided additional tools for restricting device usage. Configuration profiles can be encrypted and locked, requiring an administrative password for removal. Controls are also available to disable the camera or specify the length of time the handset can stay unlocked.
The devices can now be authenticated or enrolled over the air using Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP) servers, while the iTunes backups can be saved in encrypted formats. If an iPhone is lost or stolen, the data can be remotely wiped from the device.
Apple late last year ran an ad in the Wall Street Journal highlighting the iPhone's enterprise features. The ad followed a J.D. Power and Associates ranking that placed the handset as the leader in customer satisfaction with business smartphones. The company has also been running a mini-site dedicated to bringing the device into larger corporate environments.
While the iPhone initially was criticized for lacking a number of business features offered by competitors such as RIM, the company has been working diligently to close the gap and establish itself as a leader in the enterprise segment. On the broader market, a recent ChangeWave survey indicates a spike in demand for Palm and Apple handsets and a slump for RIM devices.
Recently publicized patent applications indicate more business-centric technology may be on the way, such as biometric authentication. As Apple opens the door to new capabilities with the iPhone SDK, third-party developers also continue to produce and improve enterprise apps.