Apple iPhone Considered by Bank of America, Citigroup: Report

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2010-11-06 Print this article Print

Apple's iPhone is being evaluated for use by Bank of America and Citigroup, hinting at the device's continued push into the enterprise space.

Apple's iPhone is under consideration as a BlackBerry alternative by Bank of America and Citigroup, according to a Nov. 5 Bloomberg report. Unnamed sources suggested that both companies are testing the iPhone's software security and that Android is also under consideration as a corporate mobile platform.  

Both banking groups were reluctant to comment on any Apple iPhone or Android action, beyond a spokesperson for Bank of America telling Bloomberg: "We continuously evaluate new and innovative technologies." The four- to six-week testing at both companies reportedly involve 1,000 employees. 

Research In Motion's BlackBerry, with its reputation for security, has long been the smartphone mainstay of many large enterprises.

Apple is making a more concerted push into the enterprise space. "We've seen extraordinary growth from 60 percent to 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies," Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said during the company's Oct. 18 earnings call. He cited companies such as Procter & Gamble that had "made iPhone available to their employees." The iPad is also under heavy consideration by large enterprises' CIOs and IT departments.

To boost that enterprise push, Apple has reportedly struck a deal with Unisys to increase its corporate and government footprint. Under the terms of that agreement, Unisys will provide maintenance and support for Apple products in use by those enterprises.

"Most of those organizations are still heavily PC-based," Gene Zapfel, a managing partner at Unisys, told Bloomberg in an interview published Oct. 25. "Apple is going to crack the nut and clients are going to start buying a lot more." Terms of the deal remain undisclosed; reports suggest, though, that Unisys will also begin constructing more Apple apps for government use.

With the rise of consumer-device use in the enterprise space, security and compatibility concerns among IT administrators have also sharply increased. "Employees and employers both agree-a Device and App Revolution exists although perceptions regarding extent of that revolution differ," reads a June report prepared by research firm IDC for Unisys. "Younger employees (iWorkers) are not demanding change. ... They are driving it [through] Consensus Usage (IT Shop and Corp liability issues be damned)."

That report also suggested that around 50 percent of workplace devices end up used in both personal and business contexts: "Data is freely mingled."

Which may not be the best situation for institutions such as Bank of America and Citigroup-hence the reported testing.

Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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