Gartner recently gave a cautious thumbs-up to the new iPhone 3G for use by business  . While BlackBerrys are still the workhorse of many organisations, giving access to email and effortlessly managing business contacts, the iPhone has now waded into the debate with its ability to not only interface with Microsoft Exchange Server, but also with Gmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL, and effortlessly provide access to modern, collaborative and connectivity-flavoured social computing tools. With this in mind, the University of South Australia officially announced support for the Apple handset last month, chosen from a short-list that included models from Nokia and HTC. Motion’s BlackBerry device was not listed. Currently, the university has 578 corporate mobile phones, with 183 enabled for high-speed 3G services, allowing users to browse the internet and use email, and has a need to replace approximately 150 handsets each year.
The university will join a list of well-known Australian corporations heading down the iPhone 3G path, including the National Australia Bank (NAB) and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. While some CIOs feel that the device is more of a consumer toy , the new security features, the 3G architecture, and its application store ensure that it is squarely aimed at the connected, cloud-working, business professional.
The cool factor not withstanding, I’ve been using an iPhone 3G for the last 2 months, and it’s revolutionised the way I work. It’s a spectacularly simple piece of technology with an interface that adapts to the need of the application at hand. I’m on the road a lot and the ability to have a real browser (not a cut down mobile one), email, contacts and appointments synchronise with Gmail is something that I benefit from on a daily basis. A colleague has a Blackberry, but it lacks the GPS and mp3 capability of other mobile phone devices, making the Blackberry less appealing to those of us who want more convergence in our work tools.
While access to Gmail means I can access my personal email, my workplace doesn’t have open access other than through web mail. Through iPhone’s Safari browser, though, I now have access! When waiting for a meeting, even in line shopping, or waiting to see the doctor, I can check and respond to my webmail, read attachments, and visit websites that I’ve not otherwise had time to do while sitting at my desk.
Scott Forstall, VP of iPhone software, noted  that because the architecture is built on the same OS X kernel it has some specific benefits:
- iPhone database API: That includes SQLite
- Core Location API: So you can create location aware applications (that would be handy for corporations like a sales force in the field)
- An Interface builder: An API that allows third parties to tap into a library of iPhone interface assets.
For me, personally, the killer application is the Application Store itself. Rather than going back to a computer to search for, download and then install new apps, the Store gives me search and browse access to the full-range of iPhone extras. Many of these apps are free and some only cost a few dollars., but they help make the use of the iPhone a seamless experience.
For example, I use AirMe to take photos and send them directly to Flickr. Other applications let me send photos to Kite or Twitter. This has been a great tool for use at conferences where I’ve been Twittering what’s been presented on using Twinkle and then sharing photos of the event as it happens. When it came to my turn to present, I used a cheap voice recording app to record the audio, and then made it available to Slideshare for the slidecast the very next day. I could have used an app to control PowerPoint from my iPhone, including being able to show me my speakers notes, but preferred instead just to use my Logitech cordless presenter.
My apps? Here’s my 12 favs:
- AirMe – Send photos directly to my Flickr account
- Delicious bookmarks – Access my delicious bookmarks
- Google – Google search and direct access to other Google apps including Calendar, News, Reader, Talk, etc
- Phonesaber – Having a lightsaber on a phone is rather cool
- IceTV – With a Media Center at home, being able to access the online guide and then tell my computer to record a show while I am away from home is very handy
- VoiceRecord – Rather than purchase a $150- digital recorder this product costs $2 and does the same job
- Remote – Controls iTunes playing on a computer from your iPhone. Great when entertaining guests because you don’t have to go back to your media computer to change tracks or select new music
- Lochly – I was in Sydney and was wondering what restaurants and events were around. With one click I had access to a list of cafes, theatre, and music
- Twinkle – Instant access to friends and colleagues within my trusted network
- WordPress – So I can write and post my blogs on the go
- MiGhtyDocs – A cache for documents downloaded and viewed from the Mail app
- Flashlight – I lost a scarf in a dark cinema once. Next time I’ll just turn my phone into a strong torch and be able to find it
With all of these applications at my fingertips, the iPhone enables me to be more organised and more efficient with my time and keep me connected with my trusted network. If you’re looking for a new smart phone to help with work, or if you’re considering a new way to keep your workers connected in an increasingly busy world, the iPhone might just be the choice of the bunch at the moment.
- – - -
2. Tindal, S. (2008) CIOs pass their verdict on the 3G iPhone. ZDNet.com.au. 11 July, 2008 11:06 AM. Online at: < dsdshttp://www.zdnet.com.au…-verdict-on-the-3G-iPhone >