This InfoWorld column reacts with shock to the unconfirmed report that AT&T is planning to market the Apple iPhone to its business customers. I wonder why this would be seen as a problem. I mean, why leave money on the table, as the saying goes. A sale is a sale whether it comes from a business or otherwise.
What would shock me is if AT&T thinks they will make a lot of money doing this or if many businesses actually buy this phone. Let’s be clear, the iPhone is not business friendly. Historically, it seems Apple just doesn’t seem to understand the needs of businesses (see its long gone PDA).
As with most, if not all Apple battery powered products, you cannot remove the battery. Hence, you cannot have a second battery charged and ready so, while on a long road trip doing your business contacts, you can slap in a fresh battery when needed. Unless, of course, you don’t mind not being able to contact your customers (or your customers you) to get their business.
Then there’s the closed operating system. No company, Apple included, can create every application that a business needs. Hence, the smart companies choose operating systems that can serve as platforms for their required applications (some of which will be custom designed). Apple has reportedly closed its platform so if Apple doesn’t offer it, you won’t be able to run it.
Then there’s the interface. Or lack thereof when you are talking about business users who need to communicate via email (rather than teenagers who text their friends using a short hand developed to keep keystrokes to a minimum). Using your finger, rather than a stylus or keyboard makes you less productive by slowing you down. Why? Because the screen isn’t big enough to easily type on with your fingers (probably you would be using only one finger rather than two as with most PDA phone keyboards).
The bottom line is that some business users will probably buy the iPhone because it is seen as being cool. But for those business people who focus on purchasing tools that help them do their job, rather than making it more difficult, the iPhone comes up short on features they need.