Apple, iPhone and Business Productivity – Post Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote
The Apple WWDC keynote has just finished (finishing anyway!), with Steve Jobs having done his presentation magic on the stage (I’ll write up the actual presentation later in the week – there’s a tip or two to pick up as ever). A little talk on iPhone 2.0 and a few other items… The new 3G iPhone of course… What’s new from Apple?
- 3G Support
- More Countries
- Enterprise Support
- 3rd Party Application Support
- And…. GPS!
Following on from the post a few days ago that mentioned the iPhone (It’s the User Experience as much as the Technology!) it is pretty clear these days that Apple is after the business user. They have provided integration with Exchange e-mail, so you can get your corporate e-mail on the run, and they are creating a very compelling application development environment, which includes a top notch simulator to test out apps.
There is a huge deal of promise in mobile devices to increase productivity, but not without challenges. Lots of different platforms and handset incompatibilities to overcome (see Mini-bar Meet Up – Some New Technologies). Either Apple or Blackberry, or both of them, are likely to crack this one in the next few years.
As I am in the process of choosing a new phone, this is all of great personal interest right now. Apple has been enabling location aware applications, and demonstrated connecting your position and your address book to enable you to locate nearby contacts. I also expect we’ll see more and more social applications coming to the iPhone (there are already a number of blogging apps). The Apple Appstore will enable easy distribution of applications and be in a huge number of countries. Apple also introduced the secure delivery of enterprise custom applications via their own intranets to authorised phones.
Will the Blackberry keep up? In terms of raw handset sales, the iPhone hasn’t flown off the shelves quite as fast as some expected. That good sized user base is key for good support and an a healthy application ecosystem, and there Blackberry has a lead – so far.
That said, Apple users are used to being in the minority from the desktop world (especially at the hight end, according to this report). There too, Apple has been making in roads into business. The Mac might be in the minority, but it seems to be the tool of choice for productivity addicts both at home and in the office – judging by the readers of this blog at least.
All worrying stuff for Microsoft, although given the Yahoo activity, they probably have bigger fish to fry, of the Google variety. They also have some tricks up their sleeve too, but that is for another day. Microsoft have the tablet PC format, which is proving itself in many business applications. The iPhone now have very good support for document reading, and makes good use of the touch screen, but I like having something in between my MacBook Pro 17 inch and the iPhone – the Samsung Q1 I’ve been using is just right. Bring back the Apple Newton (for those old enough to remember that).
Apple also introduced a cloud-based service – MobileMe – which syncs between different devices and enables synchronised e-mail for those of us that don’t have our own Microsoft Exchange servers. It works with PCs (outlook) as well as Macs. It also gives a slick web interface to all of the functionality, and integrates with iDisk as well. It might make for a nice disaster recovery mechanism for solo-workers or small/medium businesses. The usual cloud-based service caveats apply of course. It is $99 per year and there will be a free trial from release in July. Today I use Plaxo to provide this syncing for me, but I’m watching them carefully, post acquisition.
As a side note, it was also nice to see a UK technology company featured during the event (with their Band app, and yes there is even an actual band that use iPhones for their music). A Spanish company was featured too, so a bit of European flavour! Roll on July 11th, when all this should be in our hands…