CIO magazine has a piece on the 10 Reasons IT Should Not Support the Apple iPhone from Forrester Research. I realize we all like lists with numbers and ten is our favorite since we have ten fingers, but only the first four in this list are real reason. The rest are stupid. Let's look at them.
- The iPhone Doesn't Allow Data on the Device to be Encrypted - with all the problems businesses have with corporate data ending up on stolen or lost devices, I'd have to agree with this. Still, I'd bet the number of businesses using this feature effectively and consistently on Blackberrys and Treos is less than 20%. Maybe single digits.
- The iPhone Does Not Natively Support "Push" Corporate E-mail or Wireless Calendar Syncing - This one I'll give to Forrester--even though to me, and most users, I suspect it's less important than people make it out to be. Push email ought to be SMS.
- The iPhone Does Not Run Third-Party Applications Without Voiding Its Warranty - This one is a big one for some businesses who need to put special apps on the mobile device to enable proprietary business functions. This one won' go away with Apple's announced third party app strategy either.
- The iPhone Cannot be Locked or Wiped Remotely - See (1)
- The iPhone Lacks a Physical Keyboard - So? As I've mentioned earlier, this is a trade-off that many users might be willing to take: more screen real estate for a virtual keoyboards.
- The iPhone Has Limited Carrier Support Outside the United States, It's Locked Into Carriers - Again, this isn't a universal problem but one that's likely to be business and even user specific. Most users never use their phones outside their own country.
- The iPhone is (Very) Expensive - If I've got the budget why is it the CIO's business if I want an iPhone? I'm better qualified than the IT department to determine the best use of funds for me and my team.
- The iPhone Is a First-Generation Device - Again, so? It's actually been updated twice already with another expected next week. I wager that the first-gen iPhone will seem pretty nice even a few years from now while most other mobile devices are dated 3 months after you get them. Caveat: 3G support won't be a software update and that is something worth having.
- Apple Doesn't Offer Replacement Batteries for the iPhone - another red herring. Most users never change the battery on their phones. Ever.
- There's No Proof That iPhones Are Suitable Business Devices - Huh? What would constitute proof? Lots of business users using them, I guess. But Forrester says IT Departments should resist even the CEO getting one. Anyone sense some circular logic here?
Apple really doesn't care, from what I can tell, whether businesses consider their products "business devices" or not. They're not aiming for that market. The very fact that business users are begging IT departments for them in testament to the power of their design. Supporting businesses is an ugly, expensive game. I hope Apple stays away and concentrates on me.
Anyone else sense that most of these reasons smack of unreasonable and unrealistic control of the business by IT departments. No wonder business users hate the IT department. If you listen to Forrester, don't complain when other divisions hate you. There are legitimate areas of control with legitimate business purposes (data security). Mandating physical keyboards (as an example) because "we know what will make you most productive--and you don't" is pure hubris.