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How the iPhone begat shadow IT and enterprise mobility

Lucas Mearian | June 30, 2017
While Apple hasn't missed the enterprise boat, its success is due largely to the popularity of the iPhone.

With plenty of onboard storage and the ability to connect directly to their computers, the iPhone quickly won over early owners -- who soon called on IT departments to support it.

"It put enterprise IT on the defense because you had everyone bringing devices with Wi-Fi and browsers and asking to connect to email," Hochmuth said. "From a mobile device management perspective, there was really no way to manage those things."

In a real way, the iPhone spurred the rush to a coherent enterprise mobility management (EMM) strategy, as companies such as MobileIron and AirWatch raced to support it with their software, said Hockmuth.


Mobile device management is born

"For a variety of reasons, including high cost, the first generation iPhone wasn’t broadly deployed in my company initially. However, users’ demands for the technology they liked best and used it their personal lives, coupled with the explosion of applications, and the vast improvements in security, led the IPhone to where it is today, which is a critical component of the enterprise technology landscape," Palmucci said.

In 2007, Adam Rykowski had just been hired by AirWatch, which at the time focused on selling software to manage wireless endpoints -- not the devices connected to them. Like other users, Rykowski said he'd been instantly enamored of the iPhone and bought the first model for $600.

"We talk about consumerization driving IT, that was the catalyst for it. That's when we really saw consumerization of IT revolutionize the way companies did business," said Ryknowski, now the vice president of product management at VMware AirWatch.

At the time of the iPhone's launch, AirWatch found itself in the same place as many corporate IT managers: stunned by how quickly it reshaped the market. Employees, typically executives, were inundating IT departments with requests to have their business email put on their personal iPhones. Prior to that, mobile device management was reserved Blackberrys or other line-of-business "ruggedized" devices.

Founded in 2003, AirWatch had undergone a number of iterations as "a wonky security-type vendor," Silva said. It wasn't a message that was resonating well with IT departments.

MobileIron, founded in 2007, began touting its ability to track down cellular dead spots, which could result in dropped calls on the iPhone. It was considered part of device management because when executives hit the road, they wanted to be sure they didn't lose mobile connectivity.

"The iPhone was tough to support because the throughput speeds weren't great because the networks were getting slammed," Silva said. "Signal strength was an issue up through the iPhone 4. Then, you had the whole 'Antennagate' thing where you had to hold the phone a certain way if you wanted to make a call. The iPhone had its own share of problems."


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