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Is Apple's iPhone 3GS Enterprise Ready?

The 3.0 software and iPhone 3GS offer incremental improvements for corporate deployments, but experts note some key elements are still missing.

Road warriors know that one major hole in the platform is the lack of turn-by-turn navigation, but that will soon be fixed with the next version of the software. TomTom demonstrated a turn-by-turn navigation application, as well as a car-kit accessory that makes use of the new access third-party developers have to the iPhone's docking port.

But not everyone is convinced that the iPhone is ready for prime time in the enterprise market, as Apple is still the only conduit for new features like the recently-announced hardware data encryption. Some IT departments may still be wary of having to use iTunes for control and management of enterprise iPhones, said Dan Hoffman, CTO of SMobile Systems. While Hoffman is encouraged by features like remote wipe and the phone locator service, he said the lack of antivirus and firewall make iPhones not as secure as rival platforms like BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian.

"Apple's basically telling the enterprise market, 'We're going to give you almost nothing, and we're going to give it to you how we want to,'" said Hoffman. "You're at the mercy of Apple to improve the security because they refuse to open it up to a free market solution."

Hoffman said he expects the lower price and the new bells and whistles of the iPhone 3GS version will lead to more employees purchasing the handset for personal use. These workers will also put more pressure on their IT departments to allow the iPhone on the corporate network.

"One of two things is going to happen: enterprises are going to continue to push back and stick with security standards they've established for 30 years, or they're going to change their standards," said Hoffman.

The 3.0 software will be available to the public June 17, and it will be free to iPhone users and cost $9.99 for iPod Touch users. Official iPhone developers can get access to it today from Apple's developer Web site. The iPhone 3GS will go on sale in the U.S. market June 19, and it will cost $199 for the 16 GB model, and $299 for the 32 GB model with a new two-year contract with AT&T.

The iPhone may be your next full-function computer. InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of this topic. Download the report here (registration required).

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