Some of the biggest changes Apple (AAPL) made to its iPhone software in version 2.0 were made with corporate buyers in mind. Stuff like support Microsoft’s (MSFT) Exchange email platform, virtual private networks, security features, enterprise apps, etc.
So how’s that going for Apple, which would love to steal a slice of the enterprise market from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion?
It’s early, but anecdotal evidence must be encouraging for Steve Jobs. One encouraging data point: Banking giant HSBC, a RIM (RIMM) customer, is “reviewing” the iPhone “globally,” Australia and New Zealand chief information officer Brenton Hush told ZDnet Australia. That’s “…a decision on a piece of hardware like that would potentially be deployed, conservatively, to 200,000 people,” he said.
There’s of course no guarantee that HSBC will decide they love the iPhone, or actually outfit that many employees with iPhones. But 200,000 subscribers from one client would represent about 2% of RIM’s enterprise subscriber base.
The good news for RIM: Apple still faces some hurdles before the iPhone is a clear enterprise winner. ComputerWorld sums up a recent Gartner report, noting that the iPhone is “ready for the enterprise,” but that “caveats apply.”
Among the shortcomings: Potential security concerns, including insufficient encryption options; automatic software updates via iTunes that an IT administrator can’t control; and some general problems like bad battery life. To those, we’d add: Exclusivity on one carrier, AT&T — meaning a Verizon-only, T-Mobile-only, or Sprint-only shop couldn’t use them.
The good news for Apple: For the foreseeable future, big enterprise deals are icing on the cake. There’s plenty of opportunity for Apple in the high-end consumer smartphone market. And adding some business-friendly features for “prosumers” who want to read their work email as a convenience will certainly help.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.