Jun 27, 2010

Bad news for BlackBerry: The iPhone has cracked the business market

Video BlackBerry and iPhone from Youtube

The iPhone may have captured the attention of consumers when it came on the scene three years ago, but business and IT departments have long avoided supporting the device.

Instead, they've supported phones like Research in Motion's Blackberry devices. They might not be as pretty or fun as Apple's Jesus Phone, but Blackberrys get the job done. Except now, businesses are increasingly turning to Apple as well. This spells trouble for Blackberry.

The iPhone quickly dominated the smartphone market when it launched in 2007, but Apple has mostly marketed the iPhone as a consumer device, and Blackberrys have remained a corporate sanctioned tool for business. But according to The Wall Street Journal, businesses are starting to support the iPhone at increasing rates.

With reliable email access and tough exteriors, Blackberrys have gotten a reputation for being dependable business products. iPhones, on the other hand, look more like toys. They're also expensive, and IT departments have been reluctant to support the device. As the Wall Street Journal's handy chart below shows, the iPhone has many more apps that can distract consumers.

But according to Apple, 70% of Fortune 100 companies were testing or deploying iPhones in January. More worrying for RIM is the fact that broken Blackberrys are not being replaced.

According to the Journal:

"Microstrategy Inc., which makes business-intelligence software, plans to deploy more iPhones to employees and only replace BlackBerrys when they break. The company has 1,000 BlackBerrys and 400 iPhones, including 200 purchased by employees."

Supporting and purchasing devices as a business tool is proof that Apple's growing sales figures are closing in on RIM's smartphone dominance.

Blackberrys are seen as reliable email and phone devices, but it appears that the company's efforts to update software and add features have not been able to keep up with innovations Apple has made with the iPhone.

According to the Journal, Apples's efforts to protect the information on lost and stolen iPhones and its compatibility with Microsoft exchange email since 2008 have made it more business friendly.

The latest iPhone, out this week, goes further with its software distribution capability and additional security features. And according to Ron Spears, AT&T's chief of business solutions, enterprises now contribute to 40% of iPhone sales. According to ZDNET, Spears notes that iPhone's security risks have been neutralized. Furthermore, he says:

"Enterprises today view the iPhone as a mobile computer. It happens to have a voice application on it. But what's important is what you can do with it, and the way you can mobilize workforces, and specific parts of your workforce, not the entire workforce."

By Meghan Keane, http://econsultancy.com

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