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Friday, March 7, 2008

iPhone: what's next?

Hello folks, Apple on Thursday finally unveiled the much awaited iPhone SDK, as well as some other very interesting solutions for the enterprise.

Apple held a media event at its Cupertino headquarters where it previewed its iPhone 2.0 software, scheduled for release this June, and announced the immediate availability of a beta release of the software to selected developers and enterprise customers.


The iPhone 2.0 beta release includes both the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as new enterprise features such as support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to provide secure, over-the-air push email, contacts and calendars as well as remote wipe, and the addition of Cisco IPsec VPN for encrypted access to private corporate networks.
"We’re excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. "iPhone’s enterprise features combined with its revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface and advanced software architecture provide the best user experience and the most advanced software platform ever for a mobile device."

The iPhone SDK will provide developers with a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and tools to create applications for both the iPhone and iPod touch. Starting today, anyone can download the beta iPhone SDK for free and run the iPhone Simulator on their Mac. Apple also introduced its new iPhone Developer Program, giving developers everything they need to create native applications, and the new App Store, which will allow those developers to wirelessly deliver their applications to iPhone and iPod touch users.

Apple also announced that it has licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and is building it right into the iPhone, so that the handset will connect out-of-the-box to Microsoft Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 for secure over-the-air push email, contacts, calendars and global address lists.

iPhone goes to the enterprise

Apple isn't just plotting out a way to enter big organizations. The iPhone is already there, having grabbed 28% market share in just eight months on the market. In addition, the phone has also become the most popular way to access the mobile web, swallowing up 71% of the US mobile browser market.

Apple introduced representatives from a series of major companies and institutions, including Todd Pierce, a VP of Genentech, who stated that “the iPhone is a watershed event in mobile computing for corporations” and has deployed thousands of iPhones within the company. The CIO of Nike called the iPhone a “plug-and-play enterprise solution.”

The senior VP of IT at Disney also endorsed Apple's enterprise strategy on the iPhone, stating "Apple has really done their homework, addressing issues of security, manageability, and integration. We currently have hundreds of iPhone users and expect the demand to grow significantly with this release."

Stanford University also reported having deployed hundreds of iPhones on its campus. Bill Clebsch, Stanford's CIO, reported, "The iPhone has worked effortlessly at Stanford and the user acceptance has just astounded us. We have been inundated with orders."

With all of the millions of iPhones already out there and in use by highly satisfied users -- including many corporate executives -- Apple has been pushed to add features to the iPhone to make it easier for IT staff to manage and integrate into the existing systems.

"We’ve been hard at work trying to understand what it takes to bring the iPhone out across enterprise," noted Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of Marketing. One key feature relates to support for Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007.

Exchange is Microsoft's proprietary email server, which talks to standard Internet mail servers over SMTP and can deliver email to standard clients like the iPhone over IMAP, but which prefers to use its own MAPI system for talking to email clients and devices. Exchange competes against IBM's Lotus Notes, which has also announced support for the iPhone, and Novell Groupware, as described in Apple's Open Calendar Server vs Microsoft Exchange.

Apple is also presenting its own email, directory, and calendaring services in Leopard Server, including its new open source, CalDAV-based Calendar Server, described in Using iPhone: iCal, CalDAV Calendar Servers, and Mac OS X Leopard.



In order to accommodate Enterprise users tied to Exchange, Apple has also licensed Microsoft's proprietary ActiveSync protocol and will be delivering built-in support for talking to Exchange using its native language. This will enable iPhone users to gain access to server updates pushed from Exchange as they are updated on the server, rather than requested by the client at regular intervals like a typical email program.

Push Email - delivers messages as they arrive
Push contacts - updates information as it is changed
Push calendar - delivers meeting requests and changes in real time
Global Address List - provides access to the company directory of employees.

Additionally, Apple is adding broader support for using the iPhone with secured networks. The iPhone 2.0 update, expected in late June, will add support for additional VPN protocol types, including the popular Cisco IPsec VPN. Virtual Private Networks allow remote users to authenticate with a company server and gain access to local resources, including email and private corporate Intranets, from anywhere on the open Internet.

Read on (Appleinsider)

Also Cnet has an extensive coverage on the iPhone SDK, check it out.

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