From a practical standpoint, the iPhone Configuration Utility is probably just as effective against the loss of an iPhone as the kill switch in Exchange. After all, if you configure a complex password and a wipe of the phone after five or six bad guesses, you can be pretty darn sure that the data will be destroyed. Still, we recognize the importance of documenting the wipe and receiving a confirmation that a successful wipe has occurred. Many organizations won't settle for less.
The Apple/Exchange combination comes tantalizingly closer
For that reason alone, the best way to manage iPhones in the enterprise today involves the use of both the Apple iPhone Configuration Utility and Exchange ActiveSync. But even in combination, these tools don't offer the level of control that admins currently enjoy over BlackBerrys. If Apple wants to own the enterprise, it will need to give iPhone administrators more middle ground -- between allowing either all App Store apps or none, for example, or between turning Safari completely on or completely off.
More important, Apple will have to make the iPhone manageable with or without the user's permission. The iPhone Configuration Utility is good enough to get a fair number of iPhone users rolling, but only if they're responsible folks who can be trusted to play by the rules. As the number of iPhone users spikes and more control is needed, relying on users to install profiles and updates when asked is not going to cut it.
The good news is that most of the policy pieces are in place. The bad news is that the critical management pieces are still MIA.