3 min read

Apple iPhone and Enterprise 2.0

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The geek-o-sphere has come alive with yesterday’s announcement of the new Apple iPhone, a handheld device combining an iPod, mobile phone, and Internet communicator.  While there have been a number of analysis pieces written, I thought it would be fun to look at what if any impact the iPhone has on the development of Enterprise 2.0.

I spent much of yesterday working with colleagues to analyze the enterprise impact of Apple’s iPhone, but how does the advances put forth by Apple yesterday either support or advance the notion of Enterprise 2.0?

The idea of Enterprise 2.0 as put forth by a number of individuals such as Ross Mayfield deals with enterprise adoption of social software.  Others have postulated that Enterprise 2.0 represents the integration of web-based services using the SOA model.  Thus, it is hard to see how the iPhone incorporates some of the concepts of Web 2.0, but let me see if I can try.

First off we have the basic design of the of the application architecture.  The iPhone is based on putting applications and control in the hands of the user.  The e-mail client for example isn’t tied to any central server, rather it’s open, based on IMAP and able to connect to any IMAP-capable e-mail server.  Applications such as iTunes and iPhoto are also user centric.  The phone’s use of Apple’s OS X operating system means that users should be able to easily add their own applications (and for developers, there is ample opportunity to build on top of the UNIX-based platform).  

Given its support for a fully functional web browser, the iPhone could be considered the ultimate Web 2.0 handheld device, able to access any content that is based on open web standards, rather than requiring the use of a proxy or conversion method to support limited function mobile web browsers.  By delivering a platform which removes much of the limitation to the use of Web 2.0 applications in mobile devices it may make it easier for enterprises to deliver web-based applications without worrying about what will or won’t be available for mobile users.

Finally, the iPhone application suite, featuring such apps as Google maps with geolocation capabilities shows the power of mashups in a mobile environment.  One demonstration given at MacWorld yesterday involved Steve Jobs quickly using Google Maps to locate the closest Starbucks, and with a simple finger click he was able to call it and order 4,000 lattes for the audience (as a joke mind you).

Therefore I think the real E 2.0 benefit for the iPhone is that it offers mobility without compromise.  It is the first platform that I’ve seen that offers a user experience with minimal sacrifice compared with the desktop world, and as competitors follow suit, it should make it easier for enterprises to drive web-based applications to the mobile user (of course assuming those issues I mentioned surrounding security, manageability and support can be overcome).