E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Is the iPhone Enterprise Ready?

Gran Canaria - Degollada de las YeguasFor a good number of weeks that’s one of the many questions I have been wondering about, on whether the iPhone is ready for the corporate world or not. I have been using mine from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I must say that I’m thoroughly delighted with the overall experience. There are so many things that I could talk about on how I make use of it as a consumer that I could probably write several blog posts about it! Just like that! From the usability perspective, to the couple of dozen applications I use on a rather regular basis, to the Web browsing user experience (Par to none from any other mobile device out there at the moment!), to the overall smart and elegance of using a gadget that makes the mobile world a treat!

However, the problem comes when you decide to take things into the next level and see if the iPhone would be able to make within the enterprise environment. Well, that’s a completely different story. In my case, and sorry to sound so blunt about it, and perhaps a bit harsh, too, I don’t think so. In fact, I know so! It is *not* ready for the enterprise! At least, in my own case.

There have been a number of various different blog posts and articles sharing further details on how popular the iPhone has become within the business world and how more and more companies are starting to pay attention to such mobile experience. Including IBM. And while I do enjoy the numerous positive prospects of using such device at work, I can come up with two main reasons as to why I think such device still has got a long long way to go, before it grabs the attention from the mobile knowledge worker. Specially power users. Why? Here is why …

Like I said, I have been using my iPhone from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I am quite happy with it. A really enjoyable experience. For sure. However, a couple of weeks back I was able to go through the final test for me which was when I managed to connect to the IBM network, through a secure VPN connection, and spend some time navigating through the corporate Intranet.

Ok, you folks know that for over a year ago I have stopped using corporate email (Yes, that well known “A World With Email” mantra), which means I rely plenty more on being constantly connected to the network, whether internal or external. Whether from my home office or while on the road. Offline work for me has been very minimal as of late. Thus, what happened that morning when I took the iPhone for a spin, you may be wondering, right?

Well, it took me a bit over one hour to completely drain the battery of the device to the point where I needed to re-charge it again. Yes, you are reading it right… A bit more than an hour and I had to charge it again! *Unbelievable*, if you ask me, to put it mildly! You know, I wish I would have to work every day just that one hour that the iPhone would allow me to before I would need to find a place to plug it back in again!

The reality is though that when I am away from the office, travelling, talking to customers, on the road, at workshops, or even at conference events, the last thing I would want to do is look for a plug to charge my iPhone. It’s just not going to happen! In most cases, because I may not be even have the opportunity to find one! So you are stuck! Trouble! Big trouble! No, thank you!

The iPhone needs to understand and come to terms with the fact that mobile knowledge workers do even spend more hours working while on the road than at the typical office location and as such relying on a device that will have its battery drained in a single hour of heavy browsing is just a no go. At least, for me!

So, that’s one of the main reasons why the iPhone will never become my mobile computer, as plenty of people have been claiming lately all over the place. Quite the contrary. It’ll just become my casual consumer mobile device for all other trivial stuff where I don’t need to depend much on battery life. So if it goes, it goes. That’s fine.

But you may be wondering what’s the second reason as to why I feel that this device is not ready for the enterprise just yet, right? Well, here is the scenario. I work full time remotely; I have got a Nokia N95 that I use for work (Battery lasts much much longer, by the way, in case you are wondering!); I have got the iPhone. Both with the same phone company.

Yet, while the N95 provides me an incredibly good coverage throughout, both at home and while I am travelling, the iPhone barely makes it. In fact, most of the times the coverage for this device is incredibly poor, which means when people call me they can’t reach me. So they have to leave a voicemail. Which I can only get to when I myself have got that coverage back. If at all! Frustrating… And that behaviour seems to be happening constantly throughout the day and very consistently, too! So can you imagine depending on that critical phone call, for whatever the reason, and you find out that the iPhone has let you down, once again, because of the poor coverage? No, thank you!

Like I said, I am starting to have very high expectations for the upcoming 3.0 release of the iPhone in the next couple of months; see if it would address these two main issues I have at the moment with it. And convince me that once again I can enjoy that working mobile computing experience without taking with me my MacBook Pro. Because otherwise, this device will just be that. A fancy (And expensive!) gadget that I can’t use longer than 1 hour a day, before it dies off again … That may be the time, perhaps, for a change … a change to other smarter mobile devices that understand what a mobile knowledge worker faces every day while getting to work. Because right now the iPhone just doesn’t cut it. And by far!

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  1. The battery is a big problem, and I guess the penalty ofr having such a powerful device that it sucks up power.

    I haven’t experienced the poor reception so much as poor call quality/microphone volume on my 2G version.

    Also, I’m surprised the keyboard did not come into your thoughts, Luis. If I had to use it regularly for email I think I’d scream, although OS3.0 will have landscape for that which will be a big improvement.

  2. Luis, estoy completamente de acuerdo con tu artículo. De hecho, tengo un borrador de documento muy parecido a lo que has escrito. El problema no sólo es del iPhone. Los dispositivos Windows Mobile también están afectados. Sobre todo, si llevan una solución de movilidad de correo push instalada. Sea Lotus Traveler o de la competencia. Yo ahora estoy probando un teléfono Nokia E71 con traveler pero me falta instalar unos parches en el servidor. De momento, la batería me dura más de dos días enteros. Con un teléfono wmobile llegaba por los pelos a un día. Saludos desde Barcelona, Albert.

  3. Luis,

    I had the same issue with the latest iPhone update (I have the first gen phone.) My battery life literally sucked. I called Apple to start the battery replacement process (after all, my phone is 1 yr old!) The Apple rep asked me to do ONE task first. Re-install (via restore) the latest iPhone OS. Then I restored my data. Although a bit inconvenient, that did the trick! Now, I’m not gonna tell ya that my phone will go for days with out a recharge, but it does make it through the entire day now!

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