Mobile solution decisionmakers, from individual professionals to CTOs, are beginning to see the need for style to play an increasing role in device selection, and the iPhone 3G is the de facto choice.
Apple's iPhone 2.0 OS brought Cisco VPN, Exchange Server e-mail, and native custom applications to Apple's devices, bringing utility to the mix to make the iPhone an enterprise shoo-in. On style, the iPhone is unbeatable. As a lure for prospective employees, a salve for ailing morale, or an image-setter in a business meeting, the iPhone 3G is unmatched (see my original review). For some millions of buyers, that's the whole story, full stop, and there is nothing wrong with that.
[ Executive Editor Galen Gruman is unconvinced that the iPhone OS 2.0 software is really enterprise-quality. Find out why. | Interested in more about the iPhone? See our slideshow about "Top 10 iPhone apps for the techie" ]
You may know that I have embarked on a project to supplant deployed BlackBerry handsets with iPhone 3G devices in an enterprise scenario. I've spent the past month or so with this.
There's too much to cover in one blog entry, so I'll reveal my findings over several weeks, with this week dedicated to the user experience of a professional switched from BlackBerry to iPhone 3G.
The basic user interface
The iPhone's take on an iconic home screen app launcher was taken from the BlackBerry. Now, as with original monochrome BlackBerry devices, the BlackBerry GUI home screen masks text-based PIM and messaging interfaces that look archaic. BlackBerry users forgive the lack of good looks for readability and information density. Scalable anti-aliased fonts and a customizable columnar layout make the uninspiring BlackBerry inbox a user favorite.
The iPhone 3G's interface is consistently graphical and graphically consistent. All of the iPhone's standard applications are beautiful, responsive, and stable.
The accuracy of the on-screen keyboard has come a long way since iPhone OS 1.0. As of iPhone OS 2.1, it takes less time to acclimate to thumb typing. The iPhone's predictive and corrective text entry are critical here, and they're capable of seemingly miraculous divination of the word you had in mind even if half of the letters are mistyped. But BlackBerry users will miss their extensible abbreviation and common misspellings dictionary.
For UI style, the iPhone 3G has it all over the BlackBerry, but the iPhone's emphasis on finger touch has some unexpected drawbacks.