Thursday, June 12, 2008

iPhone Apps in Business Shackled to iTunes

It's the day-after the day-after the "big" announcement - and the iPhone fanboy sites are buzzing (again!) with speculation. Although the speculation is somewhat toned-down - I've seen a bunch of commentary written on how this or that is great or sucks - what the problems are (or will be) - for a product and operating system that has not even shipped yet!

Geez, people - get a life! Just wait another month, stand in line, and actually buy the damn thing before you go off and start predicting doom and gloom - or joy and balloons.

The reality will be somewhere in-between. From a technical point-of-view, the phone is pretty good - but not as impressive (or feature-rich) as those that are already on the market - or ones that will come to market soon.

But that doesn't matter. What matters is - people's perception of the iPhone as "the next big thing." That spells both opportunity for developers building native iPhone applications - and it also means that business folks will have to get ready to adopt iTunes officially into their stable of "blessed" applications.

For small businesses, this is no problem. It's no big deal to have personal media assets on company equipment, and they can just use a single install of iTunes for everything from browsing the iTunes store, to downloading games, to uploading pictures as well as the more "business-like" functionality of contacts and calendaring.

So, let me throw my speculative hat into the ring - and talk about corporate application distribution. There will be certain applications that businesses will develop for in-house use that also happen to run on the iPhone. As announced, there will be only two "official" mechanisms for distributing them:
  1. Make them publicly available on the Apple App Store; OR
  2. "Register" the iPhones in your organization and roll out apps just for those devices

Both of them have something in common: iTunes.

Now, iTunes is a terrific consumer application, and from the announcements that Steve made the other day, Apple is really trying to "get" the enterprise. It's put in the synch to Exchange, the ability to remotely wipe a device, etc.

What they didn't announce (and what I'm speculating on) - is a "corporate" version of iTunes. Can't you just imagine all the enterprise IT folks going crazy at people installing iTunes on their corporate boxes?

As of the currently shipping version of iTunes, there's no way to centrally control the application. No support for Active Directory Group Policy, no way for the IT wonks to disable the iTunes store, no way to set the default media download location, no way to limit the updating of QuickTime and iTunes versions to a centrally "blessed" version, etc.

Even in SMB companies of 30-500 people, such controls would (will?) make life much easier for an already-overworked IT staff. Hopefully Apple will "get" the needs of business - and include it into their future strategy and roadmap for a business-friendly iTunes.

No comments:

Web Analytics