September 22, 2010, 3:38 PM — When Jim Harris distributed iPhones to the employees of Quintessa Winery earlier this year, he had two goals in mind. He wanted to make his workers more productive. And he wanted them to enjoy themselves.
"Everybody loves the form and function of the iPhone," said Harris, president of the California winery. "The mere fact of giving the team something that's cool and fun--they're more likely to be productive."
Not so long ago, the personalities of the market's dominant smartphones were clearly drawn: The iPhone, fun and full of flash, was for consumer uses, while Research in Motion's BlackBerry, sober and spartan, dominated the professional market. But the line between work and play has grown blurry, leaving the iPhone--and a new competitor, Google's Android--to challenge Research In Motion (RIM)'s long dominance in businesses and among professionals.
During its July quarterly earnings call, Apple claimed that more than 80% of Fortune 100 companies use the iPhone. That's a big increase from the 50% the company cited in its October 2009 report. Chris Jones, the principal analyst for Canalys', a high-tech industry research firm in Palo Alto, California, estimates the iPhone now carries 14% of the business market, compared to RIM's 48%. "RIM's share would've been two-thirds or three-quarters of the market a year or two ago," Jones said.
More companies are using the iPhone to sell their products; they're also more likely to distribute the device to their workforces for internal productivity uses. And in many cases, analysts say, the change has come from bottom-up, with Apple devotees smuggling their iPhones into the workplace and forcing company IT departments to adapt.
"Clearly over time, with individuals making the decision over what device to procure and buy, [iPhones] are migrating into the organization," Jones said. "For corporate use, they are productive tools now."
The iPhone in action
But how are businesses actually using the iPhone? Here are some examples: