The rumours and speculation around the availability of Apple Inc.’s iPhone in Canada has been making airwaves since the handheld’s unveiling over a year ago. But just as CEO Steve Jobs said then, many analysts are saying now that Canadian enterprises shouldn’t be too concerned about the trendy device.
Still, none of these warnings have stopped users from both the corporate and consumer world from getting into a frenzy over the phone. Last October, a leaked Rogers Communications Inc. advertisement surfaced which indicated that Canadians would see the iPhone on store shelves before year’s end. Unfortunately for Apple fanatics, the telecom giant couldn’t grant their holiday wishes and the device didn’t reach Canadian shelves in 2007.
Earlier this week, Telus Corp. might have caused another stir, especially at Rogers HQ, as speculation arose the Vancouver-based telecom giant is considering entry into the GSM market – a technology that Rogers currently has a monopoly over.
“Telus is strongly considering shifting to GSM, and if that happens, Rogers isn’t the only player in town (anymore),” Michelle Warren, senior research analyst at London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group, said. “So even though, as far as we can tell, the negotiations have been going on between Rogers and Apple, there is a possibility that there’s going to be another player in the market.”
But in wake of this week’s Macworld conference in San Francisco, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky has hinted at a Rogers-Apple deal and said that there was a good chance some carrier roll-outs would be announced at the show.
As of press time these rumours have been unfounded. A Rogers spokesperson issued a statement to ComputerWorld Canada Tuesday saying the company had “no new information concerning the device.”
Despite all this hoopla, analysts say, IT managers should be wary of the popular device’s place in the enterprise. Michael Rozender, an Oakville, Ont.-based consultant who specializes in wireless technology, said there is laundry list of serious issues with the adoption of the iPhone to the corporate world – with the problems starting right out of the box.
“The enabling activation and setup of the iPhones done by connecting the device to your computer via USB cord and then firing up iTunes,” Rozender said. “I think a lot of enterprise users would have liked to have seen it enabled with over the air sync and provisioning of your settings. As of right now, when you buy the things it’s as dead as a doornail without iTunes, which not too many enterprises will be happy about.”
Rozender also said that unlike the BlackBerry, which syncs up to your corporate or personal e-mail sites and provides near real-time IMAP e-mail capabilities, the iPhone can only pick up the latest e-mails every 15 minutes.
“You can’t set it any quicker and you probably don’t want to because you’ll be chewing up airtime,” Rozender said.
Info-Tech’s Warren agreed with Rozender and pointed to the dominance of Windows Mobile devices embedded in most companies.
I think there will be some enterprises picking up on this, especially for the C-level folks.Alykhan Jetha, president >Text “In terms of an enterprise rollout of iPhones, it’s still a consumer device and not really designed to handle the corporate demands of an ongoing basis,” said Warren. “Plus, many organizations are Microsoft shops and if they’ve got Exchange server and Windows Mobile on top of that, it will be tough for them to change over.”
With that aside, Warren did say it’s still possible to see the iPhone creep into smaller organizations or particular departments in the enterprise. And this is also where Markham, Ont.-based Marketcircle Inc., which provides business applications for Mac OS X, expects to see adoption of the device.
“I think there will be some enterprises picking up on this, especially for the C-level folks, who can tell IT where to go if they disagree on implementing them,” Alykhan Jetha, president and CEO at Marketcircle, said. “But the market for the iPhones is mainly consumer and small businesses.”
The only problem, according to Jetha, is Rogers’ steep data rates – which have been in the media spotlight through the device’s delayed Canadian arrival. The iPhone hit Europe last November, with services plans starting at roughly $70 per month. According to Rogers data fees at the time, a similar offering would cost its customers at least double that price.
“I know some people that got an iPhone and went on the Rogers network, and by accident were accessing data on the EDGE network, later getting a bill for $1,700,” Jetha said. “Rogers is being selfish now and they’re getting people using the iPhones anyways, so our real complaint is with the CRTC for allowing a GSM monopoly in Canada. If there was competition, Fido would have been the other carrier on the GSM band, and a deal for the iPhone might have already occurred by now.”