During Steve Jobs’ keynote yesterday, one thing really stuck in my mind. Finally, Apple is taking the enterprise market seriously.
Yes, Apple is still primarily a consumer electronics company, albeit one that builds a range of hardware — laptop computers, set-top boxes, MP3 players, Internet tablets, mobile phones — in order to create some of world’s best software.*
Yes, the company is best poised to deliver a smartphone for consumers to manage life’s business.
Yes, in typical Apple-fashion, the newly announced MobileMe web service will bring enterprise features to consumers (dubbed “Exchange for the rest of us”).
But, with iPhone 2.0, Apple is sucking up to enterprise like never before…
First by adding Microsoft Exchange support so as to enable the iPhone to connect to and sync with corporate email, calendar and other PIM features, along with complete support for Office documents Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Second, through adding security measures such as ‘remote wipe’ – so that sensitive corporate data can be destroyed remotely in the event of an iPhone being stolen.
Third, and perhaps more significant, Apple is enabling a way for native iPhone apps to be distributed outside of the consumer-facing iPhone AppStore, so that, for example, bespoke company software can be written and then distributed via a company’s Intranet to authorized iPhones only.
As a result of these new enterprise-targeted features, we’ll likely see the iPhone not only trespass on the traditional stomping ground of RIM (Blackberry), S60 and Windows Mobile but also PDA and tablet-type devices (which more often than not run a Microsoft OS) that are specifically targeted at industries such as sales, medical, logistics and engineering. As well as a powerful platform for developing bespoke business software, the iPhone also has an enterprise-friendly touch screen – needed for some types of data input – along with essentials such as GPS and 3G data speeds. To that end, Apple says that 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies have participated in the iPhone’s enterprise development.
Could it be that next time a telco engineer or doctor turns up at your house they’ll be sporting a swanky new iPhone?
* Steve Jobs is fond of quoting User Interface pioneer Alan Kay who once said: “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”