Apple's iPhone Enterprise Opportunity: Big, But Not Huge (AAPL)

The Apple-RIM smartphone war should heat up tomorrow. That’s when Apple boss Steve Jobs will give a media presentation on the iPhone’s “software roadmap,” including “some exciting new enterprise features.”

We’ve assumed that means the iPhone will finally offer decent support for corporate email. Smart move: That would instantly fix one of the iPhone’s biggest shortcomings.

How much will that help Apple as it tries to sell 10 million iPhones this year? A bit: Big companies buy expensive smartphones so their employees can email on the go. But it won’t provide a dramatic lift overnight. In the U.S., employers only pay for (part or all of) about 11 million wireless subscriptions, or about 5% of the market, according to research firm M:Metrics.

The rest are paid for by consumers, or as part of family plans. But more consumers are buying smartphones as their personal phones, and hooking them into corporate email systems as a convenience. So if Apple (AAPL) can even come close to imitating RIM’s (RIMM) BlackBerry email features, it’s taken away one more reason not to buy an iPhone.

See Also:
Apple’s iPhone In China: Coming Soonish
How Apple’s iPhone Could Invade The Enterprise Market
Apple: We Don’t Care About Unlocked iPhones
Apple Affirms 10 Million iPhones, Says “Nuts” to Wall Street Bears
iPhone Sales Stunted? No, Apple Can Still Hit 10mm
Apple: iPhone Software Kit Coming March 6
Steve Jobs: Frequent Flier
Apple’s “Useless” iPhone Takes 3rd Place In Q4

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