Will the enterprise finally get that iPhone halo?

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It's not for nothing that Apple is generally thought of as a consumer-facing company. Though Apple has a business-focused site, it's always been thought of as the company that made fun, pretty, shiny things -- and as Frank Rose points out in his Wired piece on Steve Jobs' return to Apple in the mid-90s, business computers are supposed to be "as clunky and dreary as possible." Of course, the apathy (or antipathy) goes both ways, as Apple has been widely derided for its lack of an enterprise strategy.

While it isn't the sign of some grand new initiative, there is evidence that some changes in the iPhone 3.0 software and OS X 10.6 have the enterprise in mind. Specifically, it seems that iPhone 3.0 devices will be able to wirelessly connect to Snow Leopard-based servers securely, without a VPN. This is interesting in and of itself on a technical level, but it's also a larger indication that Apple might try to use the so-called halo effect around iPhones to get a foothold for its servers in the enterprise.

In fact, such a move might go beyond what's normally thought of as the halo effect, which as a marketing term is mostly about perception -- if you like Company A's Product X, you'll Company A's Product Y, because of the positive connotations of the brand that Product X instilled in you. While there's no doubt that people's warm and fuzzy feelings towards their iPods and iPhones have resulted in Mac sales, (numbers were good for the iPod as early as 2005), Apple's always had to make sure that the gadgets worked great with Windows machines as well, because Microsoft is still more or less a monopoly. But when it comes to high-end smartphones, Apple is, if not a monopoly, then certainly an 800-pound gorilla. By putting hooks into OS X at both the phone end and the server end, they're starting to work that market power from the other side of the equation.

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