Can Apple’s iPhone Crack the Corporate Market?

Today, Apple’s Steve Jobs is expected to announce a strategy to use its Web-browsing iPhone to move into the corporate market. Shares of Blackberry maker RIMM dropped 4% yesterday on the expectation.

The iPhone is a great consumer product, no doubt. But there’s a lot of reasons to believe that Apple won’t have nearly as much success nearly as soon as it has achieved in the consumer market. My colleague Peter Burrows wrote a smart skeptical analysis of the iPhone prospects and challenges in penetrating Corporate America. The challenges include:

– Apple needs to build up credibility with corporate buyers after years of largely ignoring them.
– Apple may have to change its business model to cater to their needs, and it’ll have to be more open with partners, so independent software developers can create applications for the iPhone that corporations want.
– To take on RIM, experts say Apple will need to develop server technology far more complex than what it has today.
– The iPhone’s keyboard may need a rethink.

Even though I too am skeptical of this venture, I think it is a smart long-term strategy. I just think the financial returns won’t materialize for a while as Apple retools its operations to cater to the far more demanding road warriors and executives in corporations.

On the other hand, I believe RIMM’s moves downstream into the consumer market are already bearing fruit. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of friends and colleagues buying the new Pearl or Curve smart phones, or expressing an interest in buying one. So this seems like more of a buying opportunity for RIMM.

What do you think?

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4 Responses to “Can Apple’s iPhone Crack the Corporate Market?”

  1. Paul Greatbatch Says:

    I think that the CEO who brings his iPhone to work will override the CIO or IT department about getting it to work in his company.

  2. Robert d. Says:

    I love my apple MacBookPro, Power Mac G5 and iPod Touch as well as the Leopard operating system. Apple allows me to do work, is fairly hassle free and rebooting is a thing of the past (most of the time). I use a Blackberry 8830 for mobile email and phone. I have had no problem with the Blackberry and it is excellent for its prime purpose of email. The phone itself is good but not great, but, it is on the Verizon network and does just fine. For anything else the Blackberry is wholly lacking in user friendliness. I am an early adapter, but I have not bought an iPhone yet. The perfect iPhone would have a quality voice recognition system for generating emails (stubby fingers are problematic for typing) and be part of other cell providers like Verizon.

  3. Glenn Madison Says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s the employees that will lead enterprise adoption of the iPhone. Take a look at this poll done yesterday by CNBC MadMoney. http://www.cnbc.com/id/21013048/site/14081545/ Poll results to question; Would you use the iPhone for business? 83% YES 17% NO

  4. spencerante Says:

    Glenn,
    That is an interesting point to make. And I agree that employees can help accelerate a decision to adopt a new technology.

    But the decision will still take time and the deployment cycle will take even longer. That’s just the nature of corporate tech buying.

    best,
    Spencer

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