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The iPhone Is Breaking Down The Dual-Mode Access Wall For The Enterprise, Too

Tim Ferguson at silicon.com argues that carriers need to do a better job of catering to the enterprise and other business customers. Before that happens, though, carriers need to open up to Wi-Fi and dual-mode smartphones.
Tim Ferguson at silicon.com argues that carriers need to do a better job of catering to the enterprise and other business customers. Before that happens, though, carriers need to open up to Wi-Fi and dual-mode smartphones.Sure, businesses would like femtocells and picocells, better billing management, and host of other servces. But after moderating two mobile business events in the last two weeks, I can tell you the thing CIOs and senior IT managers want most is more dual-mode smartphone access.

Last week I moderated a panel on business mobility in New York. The panel included speakers from several big names in the wireless industry, including Research In Motion and Sprint. There were a number of CIOs and other senior IT managers in attendance. One of the hottest topics of discussion was dual-mode access, or the lack thereof, on smartphones.

One particular CIO asked the Sprint representative about dual-mode access several times. The Sprint person avoided the question, repeatedly. The CIO, understandably, became frustrated. During their repeated exchanges, it seemed as if the CIO and the Sprint rep were speaking different languages.

This exchange was, in my experience, pretty typical. Most U.S. carriers have refused to acknowledge the need for dual-mode smartphones for years, frustrating their business customers. But the iPhone may be changing this.

I was especially excited to see that Research In Motion and AT&T this week announced a dual-mode BlackBerry. I know this device could be a big win for many IT managers, including that CIO who needed dual-mode access.

It looks like the iPhone -- and it's widely praised dual-mode Wi-Fi access -- is prompting AT&T to offer more dual-mode devices. If AT&T continues to offer more dual-mode smartphones, the carrier will either win all the business customers who need this functionality, or force other carriers to follow suit. Either way, it looks like the iPhone is breaking down the dual-mode wall with at least one carrier.