iPhone: The Device IT Managers Will Love to Hate

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With the release of Apple's iPhone on June 29, IT managers are hustling to find ways to support the devices, anticipating the moment when the CEO walks in with one and demands, "Give me my corporate e-mail on this gizmo."

Analysts and IT managers say the iPhone will be popular among their workers who buy them for consumer uses, but the devices will certainly challenge businesses because of the needed support for e-mail, iTunes songs and other applications. (For more perspective, read: The Coming War Over the iPhone.)

For example, at communications conglomerate ABC in New York, the official policy, for now, is not to support the iPhone at all, but there will be some exceptions for top executives.

"At this point, with a few exceptions, the iPhone is not a supported device, but for one or two ABC presidents, we'll make the walls move to allow it because we're in the communications business" and they will want to see iPhone's capabilities, said Jeff Plotkin, an engineer for broadcast operations and a technology liaison at ABC. "We'll figure out how to allow them access to e-mail."

Security Issues and More

For months, industry analysts have warned about e-mail access, security and whether the voice quality of the iPhone will be up to corporate standards. Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney is finalizing a report describing iPhone concerns, but would not discuss it until its release next week.

"Lots of Gartner clients are asking" about iPhone for business uses, Dulaney said. "They are scared of this device."

Tim Ma, a biomedical engineer at the American Red Cross in Washington who also handles some IT planning, said he expects "pressure from users" to support the iPhone. "It's too early in the game to say if we'd support it. We'd need a proven track record before moving forward."

He said he is personally curious about iPhone's features and potential benefits for a large organization, and will eventually test it out thoroughly. For one thing, the iPhone will have a full-screen Web browser, an apparent advantage over what Reseach in Motion's BlackBerry offers the Red Cross. Meanwhile, he added, "We have a contract with BlackBerry for a long time."

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