An Open Letter to Apple: Begging for a Better iPhone

IT Administrator Kevin Miller has decided not to support the iPhone on his company's network. Find out why and what Apple could do to change his mind.

August 8, 2007

4 Min Read
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Dear Apple,

I know you're a consumer-oriented company, but when you make products so cool my users just can't help themselves, you make problems for me. My users love the look, the features and of course the bragging rights that come with an iPhone, so it was inevitable that they were going to come to IT and ask the dreaded question, "Can I use this at work?"

Well Apple, you've made me do something I don't like to do — I said no. It didn't have to be this way; I could have said yes to your iPhone if only you'd done a few simple things:

1. We don't use IMAP or POP3, so users have no way to check their corporate e-mail through Exchange. IMAP would leave out some of the best functions of Exchange in regard to calendaring and contacts, which users now rely on to sync when they're on the road. You've got all the components set up with Mail and Address Book—now we just need to get them to sync directly to our Exchange server.

2. What happens when a user's pretty new toy gets lost or stolen -- along with heaps of sensitive corporate data? What do you think the incidence of iPhone theft is going to be like? I need to know I can remotely wipe or kill the device to keep it out of the hands of evildoers.3. What's up with the aging wireless technology? Today when every smartphone is EVDO and 3G, why is the iPhone is stuck with 2.5G? Downloading attachments over 1MB shouldn't be a hassle anymore. You're missing out on a huge market by cutting out critical business features every other smartphone has already.

While we're at it, I've got some other issues too, of a less technical nature.

4. I hope the iPhone can get dropped and still work. Then get dropped again, and again and again. And smashed against a hard surface while it's shoved in someone's pocket. Because its going to. Over and over.

5. Now, I know you've got a media player built in, and while some business IT types may find it to be superfluous, I'd say it means our users are carrying one less device, which isn't necessarily bad. So sure, the iPhone is an entertainment AND a business device. However, its price point is exorbitant for businesses, let alone consumers who are used to getting "new every two." When we're getting Windows Mobile and Blackberries for around $300 dollars, $600 is ridiculous, especially because business users get so much more functionality from those devices.

6. The strength of other phone manufacturers is that their phones can be enabled on other providers' networks, with some modifications that are invisible to the end user. Some areas of the country have better coverage from Verizon, some (not many) from Sprint. We use Sprint where I work, but since your phone doesn't work with Sprint, it can't be added to our corporate account, which I monitor on a monthly basis.7. I see you've managed to allow your stubborn "wasn't invented here" philosophy to rear its ugly head again. While I think the touch screen is an intuitive and elegant, if somewhat greasy, experience, my fingers can't use your soft keyboard worth a damn. Take a cue from the some of the other manufacturers that have slide-out keyboards. I'm game if you don't want to use a stylus. I hate them too. But don't extend that beef to a perfectly functional keyboard.

You can argue that you wanted to make a consumer phone, plain and simple -- but it's not that simple. Your consumers are my business users and when Apple raises the design bar, they notice. Suddenly, their Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices are looking pretty grey.

Apple, I'm begging you. Stop making me say no.

Kevin Miller is the IT Administrator for Advance/Newhouse Communications in Syracuse, NY. He has worked previously for the banking, internet services and telecom industries in network and system engineering support roles. He can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the author's employer.

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