You Want One, But What Does Your Boss Think?When Apple released its new iPhone 3G on July 11, crowds flocked to get the Cupertino firm's latest must-have gadget.
Apple's latest release is targeted at business customers too with improved security and integration of e-mail, calendars and contact lists.
So is Wall Street finally trading in its BlackBerrys for the iPhone 3G?
Steve Sanders, SVP marketing and product development at Interactive Brokers, confirms that the iPhone is popular with his firm's employees - even the firm's CTO owns one.
Interactive Brokers has also been evaluating it as an enterprise tool. But switching to the iPhone may still not be a top priority for the firm, Sanders suggests.
"We do have an application that would run on it, and have talked about developing a native Java application for the iPhone," he says. "We're a very technology oriented company. Our people felt that the iPhone has a solid operating environment, so we've spoken about it and are open to it," he explains. "But we have to see how it falls with other priorities." Todd Christy, CTO and president, Pyxis Mobile, which develops mobile applications for financial firms, agrees that while Apple's 2.0 release has generated a lot of buzz, Wall Street companies haven't been rushing to get enterprise applications for the iPhone.
"We've seen an increase in inquiry and exploration on our plans and views on the use of the iPhone. But we haven't seen any concerted purchasing yet. Our customers are buying a few, a couple of executives have them, but that's it," he says.
Apple still needs to make improvements on security, device management and other issues if it truly wants to target financial firms, Christy suggests. "The iPhone is a very solid consumer device, with a very powerful user interface," he notes.
"But when you talk about device management, security, policy enforcement, and failover capabilities, the only way to put them on the iPhone is via an Apple store," Christy notes. "And if you're a large investment bank, the only way to get applications out to end users is by posting to Apple, and having employees download them from Apple. That's not great for CRM applications or trading applications." Another drawback, Christy says, is that the iPhone doesn't give enterprises the ability to set policies, such as preventing users from downloading applications they don't want, or enforcing strict password policies, or preventing them from using the Iphone's camera. Of course, these are all things financial firms like - or need - to control.
With RIM's BlackBerry - the current Wall Street favorite - there are a thousand or so policies you can set, Christy adds. With the iPhone, there are just a few. That kind of control allows enterprise to roll out tens of thousands of BlackBerries, the Pyxis Mobile chief points out.
Still, the race between the BlackBerry and the iPhone is definitely on, Christy says.
"We get a vast majority of questions about the iPhone. We have to respond to that, and will come up with support for the device by the end of the year," he adds.
In the meantime, if Apple decides to address the problems that are currently still hindering widespread adoption of the iPhone on Wall Street, it could easily do so and sway the minds of Wall Street CIOs.
The question is, Does Apple really want to do that? "I think they won't go too far, they're happy with the middle market," Christy suggests.
Then again, Apple could still decide to cross the enterprise finishing line with its next release.You want one, but what does your boss think? Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio