While most current iPhone users were in anxious anticipation for the release of the iPhone SDK, allowing for the development of third party applications, the bigger of the two announcements yesterday might just have been Apple’s entry into the enterprise market.
Current Smartphone Market
In only 8 months, the iPhone has managed to garner an astonishing 28% market share, second only to RIM who owns 41%. Palm now owns a paltry 9% of the market, with Motorola having 7%. The statistics indicate that Apple is creating new interest in general in smartphones. They’ve managed to become second in a crowded field of mobile devices, despite being available exclusively through one wireless carrier in the US and the lack of third party applications. This of course will no longer become an objection with the release of iPhone Software Update 2.0.
iPhone As An Enterprise Capable Smartphone
RIM who leads in marketshare, is largely known for being a smartphone “for business owners”. In the countless comparisons that have been written since the release of the iPhone, many have said the iPhone is great for personal use, but the BlackBerry is the choice for business. Even this point has been debated. The debate officially ended yesterday with the announcement that Apple has licensed ActiveSync and will have Exchange support built-in to the iPhone. Where others have failed, Apple has succeeded in creating both a powerful smartphone that trumps others with legendary ease of use that typically only comes with an Apple product. If they deliver an easy-to-use Exchange solution, you can bet that IT departments will be certain to adopt the iPhone. Of course, that all depends on their acceptance of AT&T, which at times can be the achilles heel of the iPhone. From personal experience, I’ve certainly had my share of “Call has faded”, something which never occured when using either Sprint or Verizon.
The Most Important App in the New App Store
Support for Exchange is all well and good, but Apple needs to provide end users with the ability to read and edit Office documents. Suprisingly, it’s not Microsoft who has developed the best version of mobile Office, but rather DataViz. Their Documents To Go product has been a mainstay among business professionals who rely on their smartphones for access to their critical Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. This application would be the final piece of the corporate puzzle for Apple. When Apple opens up the App Store for business, don’t be surprised to Docs To Go or Office Mobile at the top of the best sellers.
While current iPhone owners have clamored for third party applications, Apple’s decision to support Exchange could result in creating a larger iPhone ecosystem. More iPhones should and will result in more developers releasing applications. By themselves, each of yesterday’s announcements would have been welcome news. Combined the iPhone Software Roadmap set forth by Apple could also be thought of as a roadmap to dominating the smartphone market.