Lab test: Apple gets iPhone 3G right for business
An abundance of new features carries iPhone 3G and iPhone 2.0 into the enterprise
I'll continue to work with my iPhone 3G and report on my experiences in my Enterprise Mac blog. But for now, I'll say that the iPhone 3G is probably the best $199 smartphone on the market. It shines in rich documents, over-the-air sync, direct connectivity with Exchange Server, and AJAX applications. iPhone's trump card is usability. You can drop an iPhone on the desk of a person who's never seen one before, and they'll be working it within the hour. The typing takes getting used to, but it is leagues better in iPhone 2.0 than on the original iPhone. Most of all, you can actually read the thing. Text and graphics are as clear as on any desktop, and Apple always fills the screen.
I suppose I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that an iPhone is also an iPod. AT&T may not want you to hit iTunes with the iPhone 3G, but podcasts, video clips, and PowerPoint decks are within easy reach. But I wouldn't advise downloading such files over the air if you're not on a business rate plan. AT&T will charge consumers with per-kilobyte overages or flip them into metered data plans if they exceed unspecified transfer limits. Surprise! Business customers are more likely to get a call from their rep if volume becomes a problem.
If you have existing mobile applications that rely on Java, Flash, or .Net, or if you have server-side applications that use BlackBerry Enterprise Server, iPhone's not for you. There's no way to get from any of these to iPhone. Whatever custom mobile solution you have now would have to be reconceived as AJAX or iPhone-native software, or as a client/server solution with an AJAX front end.
But if you're not constrained by your currently deployed mobile software, give the iPhone 3G a trial run. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, on the whole, the iPhone 3G clears the bar for professional and enterprise use, and in some ways, sets a higher one.