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iPhone 5 in the enterprise: Pain or gain?

Matt Hamblen | Sept. 13, 2012
\If the new iPhone 5 with LTE wireless sells as well as analysts predict, its impact on IT shops already wrestling with the Bring-Your-Own-Device trend could be dramatic.

"With the influx of new devices, we're going to batten down the hatches and hope things go well, but we're not anticipating massively changing our network and we don't expect data traffic at any levels to hurt our network," Yohn said in an interview.

Students on campus are migrating to using Google mail with native device clients "which lessens our worry that any new smartphone device will cause any kind of infrastructure impact," he said.

Despite those low-key expectations, some analysts said the iPhone 5 could cause disruptions, especially if it sells in the numbers some experts are predicting. Most agree the re-designed iPhone 5, with its larger 4-in. display, faster processor, better optics and LTE, will be popular, with one analyst at PiperJaffray predicting it will sell 10 million units by the end of September.

Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 begin Friday; it goes on sale Sept. 21, Apple said.

Keith Shaw and Ken Mingis discuss the features of Apple's iPhone 5 smartphone, and whether the larger screen, 4G LTE network and other features will excite the legions of Apple fans.

Should large numbers of workers buy up LTE-ready iPhone 5's to use on the job, their impact could generate greater corporate costs to cover expensive data plans from wireless carriers. That's especially true for smaller companies subject to data-sharing plans implemented by Verizon Wireless and AT&T, analysts warned.

A big lure of LTE comes from the ease of sharing photos and video more quickly and easily on the job, analysts said. More images than ever can be sent out unauthorized and, therefore, pose a security risk to enterprises, one analyst predicted.

The iPhone 5 features a larger 4-in. screen and LTE wireless capabilities. (Image: Apple)

"Given the weakness of Research in Motion and BlackBerry, the iPhone 5 wave could move a massive number of workers over a short period to a new, relatively unsecure device, resulting in security breaches," warned Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, in an email interview. "Greater picture sharing with a new generation of users suggests unauthorized pictures will be shared of unannounced products, bad executive behavior, and confidential events that find their way out of the company far more frequently."

If a company is paying for workers' data plans, or sharing those costs, he added, "companies may find their charges go up sharply before their employees get benefits." That's because LTE networks don't yet have widespread coverage nationwide and data plans are "very expensive," Enderle said.

"The iPhone 5 represents a brave new world that many of us will likely, in hindsight, regret," he concluded.

Mark Urban, senior director of product marketing at Blue Coat Systems, said many IT shops are still in reaction mode to the flood of smartphones and tablets used by workers, so the newest iPhone continues to put businesses on the defensive. Blue Coat sells hardware to help help maximize corporate network efficiency.

 

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