Surprise! Apple has more enterprise savvy than Microsoft

IT likes to complain that Apple doesn't understand business, but the company's business presence continues to grow

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Microsoft, ironically, was the last major mobile vendor to support this pan-device security model, though its own EAS is the original enabler. Only last week did Microsoft ship a version of its Windows Phone operating system that approached what 2010's iOS 4 delivered. But Windows Phone 8 remains far behind today's iOS and even Android in its security capabilities.

Meanwhile, iOS has significantly increased not only the controls but the configuration capabilities in iOS, giving IT more tools than ever to manage and secure mobile devices. Those same tools are also available for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, so IT has a unified path to managing users' PCs, not just their mobile devices. It's Microsoft that insists on using old-school, separate technology to manage PCs. Anyone managed by those tools knows how unfriendly they are for both users and admins.

Apple has rationalized field force devices, too
You rarely hear about it, but Apple has quietly extended its reach into the kinds of custom devices you once had to buy at great price from the likes of Symbol Technology, wherein each device is its own universe for support and integration.

The iPod Touch and iPad -- and no doubt soon the iPad Mini, whose small size will be very attractive in many retail and field environments -- are the platforms Apple uses to serve the large enterprise constituency made of people in the field. Knowledge workers -- execs, sales, marketing, and engineering, primarily -- get all the attention these days, especially around mobile information management, but field forces are just as important.

Already in retail, the iPod Touch is emerging as the main point-of-sale terminal, thanks to its easy UI, support for standard networks, secured credentials, ability to print, and availability of plug-in swipe terminals, as well as the fact it can be secured and configured over the air. The iPad is taking a similar role among insurance adjusters, support technicians, event producers, aircraft pilots, medical technicians, battlefield monitors, and others.

Apple's iOS 6 has added a series of controls and configurations aimed squarely at such field use. You can lock users to a specific app, making the iPad into an appliance. You can even restrict specific controls in an app, letting you access commercial apps in appliance mode while disabling features that may prove troublesome, such as connections to in-app stores.

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