iOS 4: What it Means for Businesses

Apple has promised a lot with iOS 4—especially for the corporate world which it hopes to woo away from Research In Motion Ltd.’s (RIM)  BlackBerrys. Besides the updated security features in the new OS, Apple is touting a set of APIs that let IT departments manage the devices wirelessly (think of those pesky but ultimately vital updates that your company’s IT department forces you to install all the time). While the functionality is built into iOS 4 (and will most likely be revised and expanded with each new release), we will have to wait a couple of months until updated mobile management tools that can use the APIs are released.

Besides this, the new email features will come as a relief to individuals who regularly use multiple email accounts. I have been using my iPod Touch for months now to handle four email accounts when I do not feel like messing with my laptop or Microsoft Outlook. The new integrated inbox is a blessing but I still wish that the ability to better manage my subfolders was available.

While RIM’s BlackBerry still has an edge when it comes to security, Apple’s iPhone has started to catch up. Capturing corporate market share is something that Apple has wanted to do for quite a while now, and while the new iOS is not perfect, it is a big update from version 3. The iPhone still has one vital weakness: its usefulness for companies that operate in heavily government-regulated industries. It will require some significant 3rd party support to be up to snuff for this task. However, Good Technology—a smartphone business software provider—just announced that  it will supporting the new iOS with its device management software. So it looks like that base will quickly be covered. Expect competitors to follow suit quickly with announcements of their own.

Of course, some IT departments might be reluctant to make the switch because of the limited carrier options. However, as the evidence for a CDMA iPhone sometime early next keeps piling up, that might become a moot issue. Especially since one of the juicer rumors concerning the speculated CDMA iPhone claims that it will also offer GSM support for when you are abroad.  RIM just got some competition.

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