iPhone ready to take on BlackBerry with enterprise push

By Peter Cohen, Macworld |  Mobile & Wireless

Apple on Thursday announced
a strong push
to help companies incorporate the iPhone into their enterprise
environment, putting RIM's
popular BlackBerry handheld devices squarely in its sites. The changes will
come in a forthcoming release of iPhone software.

iPhone takes on the BlackBerry

During an event held at the company's Cupertino headquarters, Apple senior
vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller announced the company's plans.
"We've been hard at work trying to understand what it takes to bring the
iPhone out across the enterprise," he told guests.

The list of features that Apple describes as important to enterprise end users
includes "push-based" e-mail, calendar info and contact management;
additional support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) including Cisco IPsec;
and two-factor authentication, certificates and identities.

"Enterprise-class" Wi-Fi with WPA2/802.1x support and tools to enforce
security policies were also mentioned. Schiller indicated that IT managers are
also looking to help deploy iPhones, set them up automatically, and, perhaps
most importantly, wipe the devices when necessary.

"That's a long list of important features," said Schiller. "They
say if we just did these things, it would really help adoption in the enterprise.
And we're doing all of these things in the next release of the iPhone software."

Removing risk of service downtime

"We have licensed the ActiveSync protocol [from Microsoft]," said
Schiller. This will enable Apple to build support for Microsoft Exchange directly
into the iPhone -- a huge request from iPhone users, he said.

Schiller outlined the method that many organizations use, which is dependent
on BlackBerry server communication -- an imperfect method that has recently
led to widespread
service outages
. An ActiveSync-based method will enable the iPhone to talk
directly with Exchange servers in the enterprise, all while still using the
same mail, calendar and contact information that's built into the iPhone.

Schiller demonstrated the new capabilities, including e-mail push services
and the ability to remotely wipe an iPhone.

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