eWEEK reported Dec. 27 that Apple is ordering between 20 million and 21 million more iPhones to sell in Q1 2011. Many of those will be ticketed for business use as company executives obtain them for their employees with the idea that they ultimately will help their businesses gain a new competitive advantage.
iPhones aren't the only consumer devices making their way big time into the enterprise. iPads are also being used for business purposes, even though they don't run Windows apps or Adobe Flash.
It's all about user preference. These things are fun to use, and many aspects of business aren't exactly fun, so why not at least use tools that liven up the daily grind?
"Out of the box, the iPad is sleek, it's light, it's cool, a lot of people got them for Christmas. They're going to come into work on the third or fourth of January, and if there's no real answer for how people are going to use them, there will have to be very shortly thereafter," author and Apple product expert Charles Edge told eWEEK.
Edge, who's written seven books on Apple product development, has been talking to companies for more than a year about the integration of these devices for business tasks. His latest volume is "Enterprise iPhone and iPad Administrator's Guide" ($60 paperback, $38 Kindle), published in November by Apress.
Edge has been doing iOS integration proof-of-concepts for companies in mobile device management, talking about how to manage policies and preferences with these devices.
"I mostly talk about how to get up to speed for IT environments that currently don't have any support for iPads and iPhones," Edge told eWEEK. "I've been living this iOS stuff for a year -- iPhone into iPad, etc."
Expectations need to be clarified ahead of time
When it comes to indoctrinating iOS devices into the enterprise, the No. 1 pitfall Edge sees is that when companies put them into people's hands to use, they expect results but don't have a quantifiable measure of what that success should look like.
"I think they're really cool devices, but when you're doing any type of proof of concept on devices or software or anything, you need to have a measure of how you see that [integration] project being successful," Edge said.
"In a few cases, it turns out really well because they end up with things no one had thought of before. For example, at an aerospace company we were working with, one of their developers who was given an iPad wrote an application to do scientific calculations on it that they ended up giving to about 80 of their scientists."
Not everybody is going to create something like that, Edge said, but he says "we see the rich app store a lot of people go to and suddenly reinvent the way certain business processes work."
What security problems do iPhones and iPads pose for an enterprise?
"I consider them pretty secure for what they are," Edge said. "In a larger corporate installation, there ends up being mobile device management push-down to all the mobile devices to remotely allow wiping them, or enforce passcode requirements -- the typical corporate requirements for devices that have company data on them."
Encryption of all the data on an iPhone or iPad also can be installed -- while the data is at rest or in transit, Edge said.
"Good Enterprise and Sybase Afaria enable users to make an encrypted disk image and put all the corporate in there, and if the person leaves staff, you just erase the corporate data and leave their iPhoto and music in place on their device," Edge said.
The Apple AppStore really has been a game-changer, Edge said. "Apple builds the APIs, the market builds the rest," he said. "It's very similar to how Windows started."
Edge also develops courseware and is the director of technology at consultancy 318, Inc. in Minneapolis, Minn.