Apple event: iPhone gets a serious enterprise boost
Thu Mar 6, 2008 1:37PM EST
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Exchange support, true push email, pro-level security and configuration features -- they're all in store for the iPhone as Apple tries to position its touch-screen handset as a true competitor to BlackBerrys, Palm Treos, and Windows Mobile devices.
Apple VP Phil Schiller said the new features, which will allow business users to instantly sync their Exchange email, contacts, and events, will be in the next iPhone software update. (No word yet on when the update will arrive.) (Update: Looks like it won't be until June.)
Specifically, the iPhone will get support for Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, which taps into-and syncs with-corporate Exchange servers, pulling info into the iPhone's existing email, calendar, and contacts applications. In the past, large business and corporate email networks have avoided using the iPhone because of compatibility, but now, that will no longer be an issue.
Also on tap are such must-have business features as Cisco VPN support (for creating secure tunnels into corporate servers), remote iPhone configuration (for rolling out software to an entire fleet of iPhone-toting employees), remote wipe for lost or stolen iPhones, and enterprise-level Wi-Fi security (including WPA2 encryption).
All these new features will surely make the iPhone, which hasn't been able to sync with corporate servers until now, much more attractive to big business. (The iPhone originally launched with IMAP support, which lets you sync with IMAP-enabled Exchange email, but it doesn't work with events or contacts, and there's no push email support.) If you've been stuck with a BlackBerry for work and have been dying to switch over to an iPhone, now's the time to pipe up.
Of course, the iPhone still lacks a physical QWERTY keypad, which will give many enterprise users-especially those who love cranking out messages with their thumbs-a moment of pause.
The announcement came during an event Thursday in Cupertino, during which Apple is rolling out details on its upcoming iPhone software development kit. Stay tuned.
Update: Get all the iPhone SDK details right here