iPhone 3G S likely to be used as personal and business smartphone

Apple’s new iPhone 3G S won’t be enough of an upgrade to win over businesses at the enterprise level, but will likely lead to greater adoption by knowledge workers looking to use a smartphone for both personal and business reasons, say Canadian analysts.

Rogers Wireless and Fido, its value-brand subsidiary, will offer the upgraded iPhone 3G S to Canadians June 19. Both the 16 GB and the 32 GB models will be available, at $199 and $299 respectively.

Last year’s iPhone 3G model will see a price drop to $99 – all prices assume a three-year contract with some minimum voice and data plan requirements, according to Rogers.

Rogers will also revive its 6 GB for $30 per month data plan as a limited-time promotion for the phone.

Released in what may come to be known as the summer of smartphones, the iPhone 3G S features a bevy of incremental upgrades over the 2008 hardware.

It’s the third new iPhone model in three years, and it offers a faster processor with more RAM. The camera is upgraded to 3 megapixels with autofocus and can now shoot 30 fps video, supplemented by an editing application.

The accompanying iPhone 3.0 operating system allows users to do what only jail-broken iPhones could do in the past – Internet tethering to a laptop, the ability to search across all information on the phone and voice control to play a song or make a call.  

“It’s a sum of the parts story,” says Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst of software at IDC Canada in Toronto. “This is an evolution, not a revolution.” He said while the more than 100 improvements “may not make people’s eyes pop out” they would make the device more sought after for use in a business context.

IDC Canada has released a study showing Research in Motion (RIM) had dominated shipments to the channel in the first quarter of 2009.

BlackBerrys for corporate use helped drive an increase of shipments of smartphones by 33 per cent compared to 2008. It’s a notable increase, considering that overall mobile phone sales fell 23 per cent in the first quarter.

Traditional phones without an advanced operating system fell by 37 per cent.

“It underscores the overall trend towards smartphones,” Restivo says. “Consumers and businesses are still gravitating towards these converged devices.”

But the incremental upgrade won’t be sufficient to win over decision makers at the enterprise level, according to Mark Tauschek, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group. The iPhone’s major drawback remains lack of a native management console to administer a fleet of such devices in an enterprise environment.

“You can push out some group policies from ActiveSync,” he says. “But they’re still missing that management [layer], you still have to do it through iTunes.”

Third-party software is available to those want to manage a large iPhone distribution. But there’s nothing similar to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that’s helped RIM be so successful in the enterprise space.

“It’s the lone area left that may inhibit implementation broadly at the enterprise level,” Tauschek adds. Though it does add hardware-level encryption, which helps to protect corporate data on the device.

Many iPhones have found their way into a business environment.

The improved specs and better performance will appeal to many knowledge workers, Tauschek says. The ability to tether the phone to a laptop will be supported by Rogers at launch and should appeal to those looking for more mobility. Addition of turn-by-turn navigation could also help those who travel often.

Apple has responded to the clamour for a copy and paste feature, and has added this functionality to its new operating system. It’s a time-saver for anyone looking to send a message or share a URL, Restivo says.

A field worker could also use the video capture and edit capabilities for documentation.

“It will help increase the stickiness for Apple,” Restivo says. “Much of their growth will come from the consumer space. It’s a fierce battle, and Apple has just ratcheted up the intensity.”

The App Store will also attract some small business owners or employees that want mobile applications to meet their needs.

Employees who do opt to use their new iPhone for work should be prepared to follow rules outlined by the IT department. That means the risk of getting your data wiped if the phone is lost or compromised, and possibly limiting what types of applications can be used.

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