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What the Third Coming of iPhone Needs to Win the Enterprise

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
May 14, 2009 2:32 PM PT

The buzz around an expected new iPhone model (models?) is heating up to a feverish pitch as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) nears its June kickoff in San Francisco.

What the Third Coming of iPhone Needs to Win the Enterprise

Will Apple unveil the new device at the conference? Will Steve Jobs present it when he returns from medical leave later in June? Might Jobs make a surprise appearance at WWDC, third-gen iPhone in hand? Or will his return have nothing to do with it?

Rumors about new features for the device -- above and beyond the iPhone 3.0 software update features Apple has already discussed -- are rife. They include talk of a digital compass, a faster processor, increased RAM and an FM radio.

What's really important, though, is what features the iPhone will need in order to boost acceptance in the enterprise, which could be a very lucrative target for Apple's smartphone.

C'mon, Steve

iPhone fans may be hoping to see a new version of the device make an appearance at the WWDC early next month, regardless of whether Jobs breaks the news personally or not, but Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, a noted Apple watcher, reportedly doesn't see that happening. The next iPhone, he believes, will come later in June.

That speculation was fueled by a press release Apple issued Wednesday about the iPhone OS 3.0 -- a previously announced software update -- and Mac OS X Snow Leopard, its next computer operating system. However, it made no mention of any sort of new iPhone hardware.

That leaves open the possibility that Jobs himself will usher in the next iPhone when he returns in late June, the time frame Apple officials have referred to since the CEO began his leave last winter. It's also possible that the emergence of a new iPhone might be completely unrelated to both Jobs' expected return and the WWDC.

Brave New Features?

Speculation about a new model's features has focused on a digital compass, an FM radio, two digital cameras, more memory and a beefed-up CPU. However, changes in the phone's software could be the key to winning more hearts and minds in the enterprise world.

Apple has clearly made efforts in this vein before. When it launched iPhone 2.0 software last year, it included several enterprise-friendly features in the operating system update: support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, contacts, calendars, a remote wipe capability, and the addition of Cisco IPSec VPN capability for encrypted access to private corporate networks.

Last March, Apple previewed its iPhone 3.0 operating system, which has 100 new features, and launched a beta restricted to developers.

However, still more is needed to make the iPhone really enterprise-ready, according to Ozzie Diaz, CEO of wireless intrusion prevention vendor AirPatrol. "For CIOs and chief security officers (CSOs), information and network security are crucial," he told MacNewsWorld.

New Security?

For example, Research In Motion's BlackBerry platform, firmly entrenched in the enterprise, has its own servers that provide security, while the iPhone does not.

Apple should perhaps consider pioneering a next-generation identity management system on the iPhone, Diaz said. Such a system would be location-aware from a human perspective rather than from a network perspective.

"A more flexible location-based security context would be a big part of providing CIOs and CSOs who have mobilized their enterprise assurance [regarding] who is getting into their network, how they're getting in, and if their request is valid," he explained.

Such improvements would encompass both hardware and software upgrades.

"That would require matching the device to the environment and having services in the environment -- like 3-D compasses [and] biometric and other scanners to provide electro-mechanical input -- that would provide information to a next-generation identity management system," Diaz noted.

So, there might be a need for a digital compass and other groundbreaking new features in the next iPhone after all.

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