How will the iPhone 5 affect the enterprise

Stefan Hammond
ComputerWorld Hong Kong

Apple made no mobile phones prior to 2007. Five years ago, the then-Apple Computer released the iPhone. Unlike the iPod release of 2001, there was some variety available in the initial product memory-specs. But it was still The iPhone—available Stateside and locked for a single carrier.

The device was an instant status-symbol and media darling—Time Magazine called it the “Invention of the Year.” People loved its form and function, if not the service of its anointed carrier in the USA. Of course, modified versions of the phone, which could be used with different carriers, were traded across the world. Apple officially frowned on this practice, but the sales (estimated at half a million handsets in China alone) and brand-development probably didn't hurt.

Enterprises were slow to adopt policies aimed at the iPhone (and its later cousin, the iPad), but the BYOD-culture has forced CIOs to adapt. The communication power of these handhelds has changed culture, behavior and security-policies from SMEs to regulated banks.

But the iPhone has fallen from grace. When it was a shiny new icon, there was no equivalent. Few craved a Motorola Razr in late-2007. And the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010 was a gestalt-shift. Since then?

In the mobile-space, it's “what have you done for me lately?” What Apple's done is release a marginally better unit: the 4S. Its “secret weapon,” Siri—a voice-activated digital “assistant”—hasn't set the mobile world spinning. Instead, units from vendors like Samsung which, unlike Apple's, offer a variety of screen sizes, output-ports, replaceable batteries and memory-expansion slots, have become popular. Take a look around any MTR carriage.

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