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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.

Apple hasn't really updated its mobile management functionality since then. There were a couple of additions in iOS 5, largely centered around managing new iOS 5 features like iCloud and Siri and with a heavy-handed all-or-nothing approach. Overall, however, Apple hasn't innovated in the mobile management arena.

That's a concern because over the past two years, the mobile management landscape has changed dramatically. Two years ago, IT departments were still in the BlackBerry mindset of locking down every possible part of a mobile device's hardware and software. Partly as a result of Apple's moves, IT departments began to realize that the all-or-nothing BlackBerry approach was no longer an option. The BYOD trend helped push the conversation past device management and into other areas like app and content management -- areas that Apple hasn't really dealt with on iOS devices.

When it comes to app management, in fact, Apple is particularly limited in its approach. The company's Volume Purchase Program lets companies and schools buy apps in bulk, but doesn't support over-the-air installation of those apps beyond asking a user if they'd like to install an app. That's the case with both public apps from the App Store and private in-house apps. Ironically, Apple's subsidiary FileMaker has used this as a way to present its database solutions as a more manageable platform for corporate app development.

While many vendors have taken Apple's mobile management functionality and delivered excellent solutions, each of them has essentially the same set of capabilities - those that Apple permits. That means keeping pace with the needs of the IT community is limited to what Apple chooses to provide.

It's hard to judge whether Apple is going to innovate in its mobile management capabilities -- or at least catch up to the industry. The company has been pretty tight-lipped about iOS 6 in the enterprise, meaning we could see some really progressive features when iOS 6 ships or we could see a very limited range of enhancements.

At this point, the best many companies can do is to look at what's new in iOS 6 and develop policies around options like the Do Not Disturb feature or Siri's expanded capabilities. Hopefully, Apple will at least deliver the functionality to enforce those policies.


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