iPhone almost ready for business prime time

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Support for security and enterprise email in the upcoming software upgrade for the iPhone have led Gartner to change its tune on the device's suitability for the enterprise environment..

Apple unveiled the iPhone in 2007, positioning the handset primarily as an ultra cool consumer device.

This drew concerns from Gartner about inevitable attempts to use the device in the enterprise. However, the upcoming iPhone 2.0 update has persuaded the analyst to make a U-turn.

The software will usher in a number of mobile business essentials, including push-based email, support for virtual private networks, calendar functionality and contact management.

"In its initial release the iPhone was, with few exceptions, an internet tablet with browser-based applications as its main offering," said Gartner vice president Ken Dulaney.

"However, the release of firmware 2.0 changes that, enabling enterprises to develop local code and create applications that do not depend on network capabilities.

"The iPhone will thus match up initially in several segments against its main smartphone competitors: BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian Series 60."

Dulaney added that, by licensing Exchange ActiveSync and exposing its basic security policies, enterprises will be able to provide sufficient security for iPhone during Exchange personal information manager and email use.

"This will open up a huge market for the iPhone, which had been stymied by a lack of basic business security and application functionality," he said. "But Apple must widen distribution and, of course, deliver on the promises."

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