The iPhone still is not a Business Phone

Since the launch of the original iPhone almost two years ago, it has been the position of this journalist, that the iPhone is not equipped, nor designed to be a business class phone. Although Apple has done a lot to address the concerns raised by many around the time of the original launch, such as third party apps and 3G speed, there are still inherent (and potentially unsolvable) problems with the phone.

Without a doubt, the iPhone is the sexiest phone on the market. Even with Research in Motion’s Blackberry Storm launch and a variety of other touch screen devices from other manufacturers, nothing meets, much less exceeds, the beauty and elegance of an iPhone. With it’s intuitive scrolling interface, the presence of a real web browser and hours of entertainment value via games from the app store, iPod capability and social networking capability, a la Livingston Communication’s Mobile Manifesto, there is no doubt that the iPhone is the device of choice for the long tail of consumers.

However, the finger typing (as opposed to tactile QWERTY keyboard of other devices, such as Blackberrys) poses a significant architectural barrier to business adoption. From a business standpoint, a mobile device is meant for utility. Email, productivity, and collaboration. That’s what we in business need from our phones, no? We need to be able to ensure connectivity to mission critical offices, and projects.

In Washington, we are a working class. We may not be the working class, as bandied around in political campaigns, but we are a town driven by long hours, massive public-interest footprints and a very east-coast “on the go” mentality. In Washington, Verizon Wireless rules the roost because of solid coverage and underground Metro coverage (granted, other carriers will have expanded coverage by the end of the year and full access by 2012).

During the Inauguration, while those in proximity to me (on the National Mall) lost coverage for all or a portion of the ceremony while using the Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile networks, Verizon Wireless troopered on without so much as a hiccup.

So, let’s review the iPhone. The iPhone is locked into the AT&T network (for now). Therefore, large collections of iPhones all throttle the same towers as opposed to dispersion of traffic across a multitude of networks. FAIL.

The iPhone presents significant usability and utility challenges to the “working” American due to the finger touch system. Additionally, the lack of viable Exchange integration (sorry, the iPhone OS 2.0 upgrade providing ActiveSync is junk), and lack of Group Policy mechanisms that prevent IT Administrators from effectively tying into a Enterprise Active Directory structure and enforcing group policy and security across an infrastructure in the same way they can for Windows Mobile or Blackberry devices, will continue to prevent the iPhone from seeing widespread adoption in enterprise environments.

Don't Buy the Coming Hype – Apple Botched the iPhone Launch, Not the Carriers

Possibly the worst public relations nightmare in internet history occurred yesterday. Hardcore fans wanting to buy the new iPhone 3G camped out over night, and in some cases for days, to be the first to get their hands on the new, sexy, shiny device from their perfect company, Apple.

What they got was unexpected. They got iFail, as it’s been called some places or iPocalypse as it’s been called other places. One person I talked to who worked in an Apple Store in Pennsylvania said that maybe 1 out of every six iPhones successfully were activated yesterday. In some cases, the ability to communicate with AT&T caused an incomplete software load, turning the phone into a cold, dead device.

MG Siegeler at Venture Beat hints at a conspiracy theory, whereby Apple can pin the problem on AT&T and opt-out of a contract.

The conspiracy has merit. Apple has not been happy with AT&T since the June 26 launch of iPhone 1.0 last year. At some point, Apple started realizing that an exclusive contract with AT&T was a failure, especially for those people in Canada who couldn’t get AT&T. Thus the unlocked iPhone trend began under Apple sanctioning. People could buy, for a much higher price, an iPhone that was not locked into the AT&T network and activate it with any compatible carrier. There’s merit to the conspiracy because Apple marketing is a precision machine that knows exactly how to communicate a message without sweating it. They could easily create a conspiracy and wash their hands clean of it at the same time. It doesn’t help that they are tight-lipped about everything. Everything!

You know what they say – if it looks like you’re hiding something, you probably are.

But now, let me throw some cold water on this conspiracy theory. You can’t blame AT&T when every other authorized carrier encountered the same problem. Rogers, in Canada, experienced a botched launch in their debut as an authorized iPhone Carrier. O2, the authorized carrier in the UK, had problems.

Don’t buy into the hype, I’d say. This seems to be Apple’s problem.

And frankly, this is why I will never stand in line to wait for any product from Apple. It’s not that I don’t love Apple. I do. I have an iPod and a Macbook Pro. My router is not a Linksys, it’s an Airport Extreme. My wife owns a Macbook. Trust me, we’re Apple nuts around here. But somedays, I think I’m the only one with any intelligence. Why would you buy a product from this company on the first day? Never do that. Never, ever.

At least now I feel vindicated in saying that. No one needs an iPhone that bad to have to get it on the first day. No one. It will be there next week after the kinks are worked out.