iPhone, I’ll say it again – the best business phone out there.

Scaling / April 20, 2007 / Alykhan Jetha

So Microsoft is out there saying that the iPhone is useless and irrelevant to business or lacks business savvy. Maybe they need to be more clear and argue that the iPhone is irrelevant to the enterprise. I can buy that argument, but business in general, especially small business? I don’t and can’t buy that argument. My stance is that the iPhone is the best small business phone out there. The reason: It’s flipping easy to use!Now what does that have to do with small business users? Everything.If you are in business, you need to adopt things that have a short learning curve (we learn this lesson everyday), because you just don’t have much time to learn stuff. The beauty of the iPhone is that is presents to you just the interface you need when you need it. And because the interface is dynamic, the iPhone can take up the whole screen when you are doing that one thing.

Microsoft keeps raising two arguments:

1You cannot load third party software

2You cannot open MS Office documents

The one thing that they seem to forget is that the iPhone has the multi-tasking Mac OS X at its core. Mac OS X already trumps Microsoft’s Desktop OS, never mind their mobile OS. You can already read MS Word documents with Mac OS X out of the box using TextEdit. As a developer, I can tell you the .doc reading capabilities are right in Cocoa. You can open PowerPoint documents in Keynote and I’m sure Apple has something up their sleeve for Excel documents.

We also know that many of the frameworks used on Mac OS X are also on the iPhone. It’s easy to see that Quartz, WebKit, CoreAnimation (and thus CoreFoundation) are there. I would also venture to say that portions of Cocoa (with a variant of the AppKit) and other frameworks are there as well (I doubt Apple would write apps for iPhone in Carbon or some other unknown GUI framework).

So it is not an issue of capabilities – the iPhone OS is plenty capable. I think it’s a matter of timing. Apple is releasing the most powerful OS a mobile device has ever seen. That in itself is a major challenge, never mind dealing with developer kits and whatnot. Let them get the basics right first.

Strategically, I think Apple is doing it right. They are making it easier to use and more appealing to the masses. They are specifically veering away from the enterprise market (for now) because addressing that market makes things more complicated and unappealing to the masses.

Besides, the enterprise market is not one of Apple’s core strengths, but the small business market is a different story. And we all know that there are more consumers and small business users than there are enterprise users.

The iPhone has everything that a small business needs and if you really need to read a Word or Excel document, you’ll just ask the sender to send you a PDF version.

When the time is right and the economics make sense, I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that Apple will have a process of getting third party apps on the iPhone.

So again – why is the iPhone is the most important small business phone? Because more business users will use it because they want to use it, instead of being forced to use it.

While I don’t track how many people make inquiries about new, upcoming phones. 1 million inquiries seems like a lot. Microsoft must be worried about Apple delivering a better OS on a device than they can on a desktop, otherwise why bother with all the FUD?

Until next time…


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