At the Apple corporate campus this week, the Mac maker premiered iPhone OS 3 software, which includes 100 new features and will arrive in June - though the 50,000 individuals who have paid to be part of Apple's developer program were given immediate access to a beta version, as well as to an updated software development kit (SDK).
The SDK features more than 1,000 new application programming interfaces, and Apple says they're the same tools that are used in-house.
The contributions of independent developers have boosted the Apple App Store's offerings to 25,000 applications, and downloads had surpassed 800 million - in just eight months' time.
But how much of that is tied to enterprise use? Will OS 3.0 include enough changes to convince IT managers that the iPhone - already in the hands of 17 million users in 80 countries - can be a secure, viable business device?
eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Andrew Garcia reported that, for those who look closely, there are small acknowledgements of the enterprise. OS 3.0 includes VPN on Demand; Certificate Revocation; and Media Scrubbing. Though little will be known about these features until 3.0 is released.
eWEEK Senior Writer Chris Preimesberger reported that the possibilities for the iPhone 3.0 appear endless and highlighted new capabilities such as Cut, Copy and Paste, which, amazingly, the iPhone hasn't had, since it took some time to develop securely; Peer-to-Peer capability, allowing users within Bluetooth range to access one another's iPhones to stream music and videos (fantastic for music lovers but potentially a nightmare for security fanatics).
And also Push Notifications, which help scale out business applications. This unified, generic service is for all platforms and is located in Apple's own server farm.
Recognizing the ubiquitousness of the iPhone, companies such as Sybase and SAP are taking it upon themselves to tap into these devices that are in the enterprise but not often sanctioned for enterprise use.
On March 11, SAP announced a partnership with Sybase that would enable the SAP Business Suite 7 to fully run on the Apple iPhone, as well as Microsoft Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and other mobile devices.
SAP currently offers CRM software for BlackBerry and the iPhone - BlackBerry being more the device of choice for IT managers and CIOs, and pressure to use iPhones coming from users and executives who are comfortable with it from their personal use.
Sun Microsystems has also expressed interest in the iPhone, wanting to run a Java Virtual Machine on it, which was unlikely. With news emerging on March 18 of IBM potentially buying Sun, however, the likelihood of an iPhone relationship could increase.
"Many companies are in a consolidating industry, and they're making bets like this because they need to stay viable," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates.
"These are straitening times, and it's making more companies take outside bets," Kay added. "Though really this isn't so outside - the iPhone is likely to penetrate enterprise."
The meeting of the iPhone and the enterprise - and the iPhone has had better enterprise penetration than other Apple products, albeit through the backdoor - has been organic, explains Kay. Apple is making accommodations toward enterprise suppliers, as well as the actual end buyers themselves, and the suppliers are doing what they can to diversify in a struggling economy.
Besides, laughs Kay, "Apple, like all great companies, is a megalomaniac. They want that total market domination."