IT execs intrigued but skeptical of iPhone corporate support

Apple has 'never shown meaningful interest in the enterprise,' says one executive

Apple said it has enterprise business support for its iPhone 2.0 beta release, but several senior IT executives expressed skepticism and even ridiculed Apple for having little big business expertise.

"Apple has never shown any meaningful interest in the enterprise space, so today's news seems to be driven more from the success of iPhone's adoption with consumers," said George McQuillister, client computing architect for Pacific Gas & Electric, which has 15 million gas and electric customers in the US. "The SDK release seems to want to say that Apple has the enterprise blessing and that everything is wine and roses, but I will believe it when I see it."

McQuillister said he had to issue a memo to 20,000 PG&E employees last summer after the first version of iPhone was released to explain why his IT shop was not allowing the use of iPhone internally. "I was concerned it didn't have the management controls and security we needed," he explained.

And today "I'm going to tell everybody the same thing, that it's too early for the adoption stage," McQuillister said. And if users protest "I'll get bigger guards," he said with a laugh, admitting that the device is popular among PG&E workers.

Beyond whether the 2.0 release is even enterprise-ready from a technology standpoint, McQuillister questioned whether Apple in general has a serious enough attitude toward corporate customers to want their business in a major way.

"If you truly want the enterprise businesses, it seems to me you'd put together an entire package for all sorts of products needed in a large business," he added. "Maybe a major strategy is what's coming, and they are truly creating a new business model, but so far I'd say there's no readily apparent enterprise objective."

Apple released a list of 10 companies that supported the 2.0 beta, including Cisco Systems, Nike, Walt Disney and Microsoft, which makes the Exchange e-mail product that will be rolled out in the 2.0 upgrade in June.

In its statement, Apple quoted Roland Paanakker, CIO at Nike, as saying he would "look forward to deploying more iPhones to more business users" because of the Exchange functionality.

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