The iPhone Enterprise Experience

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2007-06-25 Print this article Print

Ive tried to use IMAP in the past, and theres a reason why it never became very popular: Its complicated and doesnt work very well, especially when you have multiple clients reading messages off of the same server. Synchronizing, if it works at all, works inconsistently. This was my memory from years ago, and some Googling of support forums confirms these concerns.

MAPI handles all these synchronization issues much more smoothly than IMAP. This will make Exchange e-mail a relatively unpleasant experience for iPhone users. Perhaps theyll blame Exchange or their own IT people. Its not like it could be Apples fault. But even to the extent that it works, it will be a second-rate experience compared to, for example, a Blackberry. And its not just the experience; ActiveSynch is actually pretty secure (I hear this from third parties who have no reason to suck up to Microsoft on the matter).

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With IMAP, there is no direct synching of contacts and appointments. Appointments come in as messages in a folder. Yuck! In Outlook you can synch your calendar and look at it. With IMAP on an iPhone, well, you probably use Outlook Web Access.

Since the iPhone has a browser, Outlook Web Access is probably going to be the main corporate mail vehicle. Ive just confirmed that this works in Safari for Windows, as I expected it to. Its probably going to be crowded on the screen on an iPhone, but perhaps its doable, and it should be less of a headache for IT. I just cant imagine doing browser-based e-mail with a touch-screen keyboard.

And now the malware world is speculating whether a massive new population of iPhone users will finally make it worthwhile to write Trojans and worms for Apple products. Presumably these would be iPhone malware, and not necessarily Mac malware, although its possible some could work on both.

Im not going to venture a guess. As far as I can tell, if it made sense for malware authors to target Windows users as much as they have, it made sense years ago for them to try out Mac users. I think theyre just lazy, and I wouldnt expect this to make much of a change for them. Perhaps when someone sells (or even better, gives away) a kit for building iPhone malware with ready-made lure messages and pre-screened Mac user mailing lists, things will be different.

But on the other hand, there has been talk about mobile phone malware for years and plenty of proofs of concept (especially for Symbian). None of it has been a big deal in the real world, but writing a virus that effectively spread on iPhones would bring some major bragging rights. Its certainly possible.

Thats when we need to start building third-party security stacks on our phones, and thats when the fun ends.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers blog Cheap Hack More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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