Five Reasons the iPhone 4 May Not be Right for Your Business

The iPhone 4 includes features making it a better business tool, but it still may not be right for all businesses

The dust has settled on the iPhone 4 pre-order stampede, the tents are pitched outside of Apple stores, and the world is bracing for the official launch of the next-generation iPhone tomorrow. With this latest iteration of the popular smartphone Apple makes even more progress catering to business customers and competing with the likes of RIM (Research in Motion), but there are still some aspects of the iPhone that may not be ready for prime time in the enterprise.

1. Single Form Factor. The iPhone may fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, but that doesn't mean it fits comfortably in every user's hand. People have different sized hands. Some people may not be able to navigate the iPhone 4 easily one-handed. Some users prefer a physical keyboard. The point is that the iPhone 4 form factor may not be for everyone, but in embracing iPhone as a business platform it is what it is, and you get what you get. There are no options.

2. Inferior Multitasking. Yes, with IOS4 Apple has introduced multitasking...sort of. First of all, it is a limited approach to multitasking that only provides background access to certain features. Second, the ability to multitask is dependent on the app being developed to function within the multitasking parameters defined by Apple. So, whether or not you can take advantage of the Apple version of multitasking hinges on your app vendor, and my experience so far with IOS4 on an iPhone 3GS is lacking--to put it mildly.

3. Adobe Flash. Yes. I said it. Flash, Flash, Flash. It has been a heated issue for months between Apple and Adobe. The availability of Flash Player 10.1 on Android 2.2 will also add fuel to the fire and perpetuate the war of words over Flash compatibility. For some businesses and business professionals it is completely a non-issue. However, some may require Flash functionality, or at least prefer to have it as an option. If that is the case, the iPhone 4 is not the smartphone for you.

4. Removable Battery. The iPhone 4 has tremendous battery life--but it is still limited. Traveling road warriors like to have spare batteries and the ability to swap a dead battery for a fully charged one on the fly for those trips where they might be away from a charging source for an extended period of time. No can do with the iPhone 4.

5. Data Plans. With the iPhone 4 your business is locked into doing business with AT&T--which recently put an end to unlimited data plans. AT&T claims that 65 percent of its customers don't exceed 200Mb of data per month, and 98 percent don't exceed 2Gb, so at face value the new data plans seem to benefit users by providing cheaper data alternatives. However, data consumption habits will continue to grow as more Web-based technologies evolve, and AT&T's data plans, combined with the "bonus" option of paying $20 a month just for the privilege of tethering may quickly add up to skyrocketing wireless data costs.

All that being said, Apple has added a number of features and capabilities that make the iPhone 4 more enterprise and IT administrator friendly. You will have to do the due diligence for your business to determine if the new provisioning and management capabilities outweigh the reasons spelled out here, and decide whether the iPhone 4 works for your business.

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Tony Bradley

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