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The iPhone 5 at work -- How companies should prepare

Ryan Faas | Sept. 18, 2012
Now that Apple has officially unveiled the iPhone 5, the big question for business users and IT professionals is how it -- and to a broader degree, iOS 6 -- will affect them and their companies.

Businesses can prepare for this transition by looking at their existing set of iOS devices and accessories. One critical thingfor is to determine whether needed functionality will be present when using an adapter - something manufacturers should be able to tell you. Beyond that, it's worth looking at future mobile device purchase plans to decide whether you can stick with dock connector devices for a while. It might be more feasible to slow the transition to Lightning devices like the iPhone 5 and delay buying additional devices like iPads until Apple has fully transitioned all its mobile products to the new connector.

Overall support

The new Apple-designed A6 processor and improved battery life are both great value-adds for business users, though they don't really affect IT departments and mobility policies.

The iPhone 5 probably won't generate many problems, but it may generate a number of questions from employees. Those questions are most likely to center around the device's LTE support -- with cost and coverage concerns being the key questions IT needs to answer -- and around migration from the traditional dock connector to the new Lightning port. These issues are probably going to be more common in BYOD environments, with questions about LTE coverage and carrier choices the most common. Preparing a user guide for would-be iPhone 5 owners is a great opportunity for IT to offer up resources and answer questions that might otherwise filter in through other channels such as the corporate helpdesk.

iOS 6

While the iPhone 5 itself was the big news during Apple's event, iOS 6 is the bigger enterprise question for most companies. The update, which will be rolled out next Wednesday, includes a range of new features, several of which are excellent additions for business users. But it remains something of a mystery from an IT and mobile management perspective.

Apple didn't really show much in the way of new iOS 6 functionality during its media event this past week. There was a recap of things like expanded Siri functionality and the new Maps app, but those were already featured during the WWDC keynote in June.

Mobile management innovation or stagnation?

For businesses and IT professionals, the big iOS 6 question is how Apple is expanding its mobile management capabilities. Apple introduced basic mobile management in iOS 2 with support for Exchange ActiveSync, but it was really two year ago with iOS 4 that Apple began offering a true mobile device management (MDM) architecture. At the time, Apple's feature set was pretty current - not as broad as, say, RIM's management features, but good enough that it made the iPhone and iPad enterprise-capable devices.

 

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