Apple’s new corporate-friendly features — access to Microsoft’s popular Exchange email/calendar server, new security features, custom apps — now make the phone “ready for business,” according to influential research firm/consultancy Gartner.
“During the initial launch of the iPhone, Gartner analysts expressed concern over some security issues with the device,” the company said. “But recently announced enhancements, expected to be delivered in June 2008, have caused Gartner to change its recommendation.”
Garner now rates the phone with “appliance-level” status, which means it’s good to go for corporate email, organising, phone calls, and Web browsing.
“By licensing Exchange ActiveSync and exposing its basic security policies, enterprises can provide sufficient security for iPhone during Exchange personal information manager (PIM) and e-mail use,” Garner analyst Ken Dulaney said in a statement.
The new features open up a new market for Apple (AAPL), which will mostly compete for corporate deals with Research In Motion (RIMM) and phones running Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Mobile operating system.
Corporate adoption could help Apple (AAPL) sell some more iPhones — the company hopes to sell 10 million this year — but it’s not a huge market. 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 upshot: A lot of growth in the smartphone market is coming from consumers who connect their phones to corporate e-mail accounts as a convenience.
Other potential hurdles: Apple’s iPhone only operates on AT&T’s (T) network in the U.S., while many businesses have their corporate contracts with rivals T-Mobile, a division of Deutsche Telekom (DT), and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon (VZ) and Vodafone (VOD). And organisations that are already heavily committed to RIM’s BlackBerry service could be slow to adopt the iPhone, which uses a different method to connect to corporate email servers.
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