Apple ticks off enterprise converts

By admin, September 17, 2009 8:17 am

Apple remains tone deaf to potential enterprise customers despite apparent aspirations to further its inroads in that market, tacitly acknowledging in a recent iPhone software update that previous versions have been falsely reporting secure connections when such was not, in fact, the case.

The iPhone OS 3.1 update released last week patched the software to begin correctly reporting the status of on-device encryption and VPN password policy adherence, suddenly breaking thousands of the devices in corporate use which had previously functioned only by subterfuge. For CIOs, IT managers, and other staff who had, in many cases, gone out on a limb to vouch for Apple's ability to adhere to corporate security policies, this is the worst sort of slap in the face. While few are so crass as to suggest that the deception was intentional, as opposed to a genuine bug in the status reporting, the fact that Apple failed to pay more attention to such an important component for enterprise IT suggests that the company still has a long way to go in developing a culture capable of courting big business at the same level as its competitors do. The lackluster response to the issue only exacerbates the problem.

Some, such as InfoWorld's Galen Gruman, suggest that the company may have torpedoed its chances of ever developing such a rapport with business customers as a result of this mistake. Certainly those CIOs who took a chance on the company by choosing to support it over (or even in addition to) the safe, easy status quo choices of Blackberry and Windows Mobile are going to think twice before relying on Apple again. Even those who are fans in the personal sphere will have difficulty making a case for the company in the near future; if you can't trust a device's self-assessed security level, there just isn't much about it you can trust in a corporate network.

Of course there are many companies in the IT world that have made a practice of screwing over their customers and keeping them coming back for more, but those companies have usually achieved lock-in, good faith over time, or some other sort of leverage before they try something so bold. Apple has a lot of dedicated fans in the consumer world, but it isn't clear that popularity is going to allow them to kick sand in the face of the IT department and keep making gains in the corporate market.

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