NEWS ANALYSIS: The iPhone has changed much of the way the enterprise does business, gains productivity and handles security. But now the iPhone has many mobile company and corporate IT departments groping for ways to cope with the bring-your-own-device trend.
Five years ago, at the end of June 2007, the world of mobile IT changed forever, although few realized it at the time. Who could have guessed that the sales of the first iPhone would ultimately lead to significant productivity gains, new lines of business and new headaches for IT? At first all that the iPhone seemed to be was an upgraded iPod music player.
But over time, as more and more people realized that their iPhones could do more than make phone calls, browse the Web and play music, the demand to make them part of the enterprise became too much for IT departments to resist. Suddenly, alongside those Motorola RAZRs and BlackBerry smartphones, a new player had emerged, and it was a new player that could do things other devices couldnt.
At first those new things were pretty limited. The iPhone was cool, people wanted to have one so they could be cool, too. But it turned out that the iPhone could do email, it could browse the Web and it could run programs. While most of those programs, simply called apps, were games or personal productivity software, there were a few that would work in a business environment.
By this time the iPhone had changed the face of enterprise computing even though the world of enterprise computing hadnt figured that out yet.
But things from that time are a big fuzzy. The iPhone was introduced in January of 2007, but not shipped until late June. There was buzz, but most people werent sure what to make of it. Was it a music player with a phone or phone with a Web browser? Or was it really a computer since it ran Mac OS in those days?
If thats where it had ended, the iPhone might have just been a short-lived curiosity, kind of like the Newton. But then Apple made sure the iPhone would work with Microsoft Exchange. Now iPhones could start infiltrating corporate offices and IT departments had little choice but to support the iPhone.
This was the beginning of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend, although we didnt call it that back then. Suddenly many different, personally owned smartphones and mobile devices were available and people started bringing them to work, expecting to use them. Companies for the most part were going alongafter all, they didnt have to buy the phones.
And it wasnt just iPhones. Suddenly every-day users, those that wouldnt normally qualify for a company smartphone, were buying BlackBerry devices. Then Android phones started showing up and everyone wanted to be on the company network. Chaos reigned, but chaos isnt always a bad thing.
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.