100,000 iPhone Apps. Congrats. Now Add Things Businesses Care About

Tedschadler  by Ted Schadler

It had to happen eventually. The success of iPhone (now used by 14% of US, UK, and Canadian smartphone-using information workers) is driven signficantly by "there's an app for that." So that while a huge congratulations! is in order, getting to 100,000 applications available was just a matter of time. Mostly consumer apps, of course, but a growing number of business applications, including Cisco WebEx, Oracle Business Indicators, Roambi's Visualizer data dashboard toolkit, and Salesforce Mobile.

But what IT professionals need, particularly those focused on making information workers productive with smartphones, is much better support for managing custom and prepackaged business applications. (That along with a bunch of things like more robust security, easier device management, stronger encryption, more policy-based control over the device, things that RIM does but the largely Microsoft-controlled ActiveSync solution doesn't. But more on that another time).

Focusing here on applications, it's time for us all to insist that Apple make it easy for IT professionals to:

  • Support wireless application downloads.The current iTunes or iPhone Desktop Configurator solution just doesn't cut it for businesses. They need over-the-air download and update capability.

  • Push application updates. How else can IT feel confident that a business application will work?

  • Configure applications remotely. How else can in-field changes be supported?

  • Improve the App Store catalog to filter for things businesses care about. How else can businesses point their employees at the right packaged applications?

RIM sets the bar on most of these requirements with the enterprise-grade BlackBerry Enterprise Server and network. RIM's solution (though sometimes pricey and hard for IT to bill back to the business) works well in even highly regulated or secure industries.

Apple may not want to incur the cost of supporting these enterprise scenarios itself,  but it should at least open the door to third parties like Sybase, BoxTone, and Divitas Networks to do it.

Disagree? Have other requirements? Please comment.