iPhone@10: Here's How It Redefined Enterprise Mobility

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 29, 2017


A decade ago, on June 29, 2007, the first iPhone went on sale at an unprecedented pricing, starting at $499. Apple’s ubiquitous phone marked the dawn of the smartphone era overpowering the likes of Blackberry, Nokia, Motorola, and became sort of a ‘cult device’ across the globe. It gradually sparked a workplace revolution and triggered concepts such as workplace mobile apps, bring-your-own-device [BYOD] programs and enterprise mobility management [EMM].

From the launch of the first Apple iPhone a decade ago, Apple has sold more than 1 billion iPhones, and customers have downloaded more than 180 billion mobile applications from its App Store, shaking up the world of enterprise mobility. While enterprise handset makers like BlackBerry and Palm gradually waned in the backyard over the years, Apple made a big shift from what was fundamentally a consumer product, bringing it into the workplace, forcing corporate IT departments to rethink mobility in the workplace.

Mobile Apps enter the enterprise zone

Initially, Apple did not support third-party mobile applications. In July 2008, Apple unveiled the iPhone 3G, along with the App Store, its application storefront. Although the App Store launched with under 600 apps, it grew in no time with the present number hitting more than 2 million.  Google and Microsoft eventually rolled out similar app stores for their Android and Windows platforms respectively.

Read more: Apple Adoption In The Enterprise Is Accelerating: Report

The App Store soon enabled a wealth of business applications, many of them designed to enhance productivity and collaboration, and to let users access and edit documents on the move. As Bryan Bassett, research analyst for enterprise mobile device solutions at IDC, said, “I certainly think the app ecosystem is a big part of what made mobility so successful in the modern era.”

Location based feature

BlackBerry devices and phones were already running the Windows Mobile operating system for business users, but they were built primarily for email. Apple iPhones made the picture complete. When former Apple CEO Steve Jobs first demonstrated the iPhone in January 2007, the demo included Google Maps.

steve jobs

Apple had GPS and mapping capabilities built in, and then in 2008 added an application programming interface (API) to the phone’s iOS software that allowed apps to access the phone’s location. That radically changed enterprise mobility, because it came equipped with tracking and logistics capabilities. Even the ability to get simple directions and navigate around an unfamiliar city gave business users more productivity and capabilities than they had before.

Start of the BYOD Revolution

Earlier, smartphones were issued to business users by their companies’ IT departments, but that has started to change with the introduction of Apple’s smartphone. In 2007, the vast majority of smartphones were supplied by companies. Now almost every office worker has a smartphone, blurring the lines between corporate and end-user phones. That happened because Apple created a consumer product, and because employees, who are also consumers, found it valuable enough to adopt this concept.

Thus, the iPhone helped spur the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon, in which users brought their personal iPhones to work, and IT departments had to respond to support and secure them.

Read more: 9 Powerful Leadership Mantras From Steve Jobs

From BYOD comes Enterprise Mobility Management

As iPhones started to invade work IT environments, mobile device management and, later, enterprise mobility management (or EMM, which covers devices, apps and content) became more important. IT departments needed to secure these devices, make sure they were provisioned with the right apps and ensure that users were not allowing malicious content to flow onto company networks via their smartphones. The widespread adoption of the iPhone, and then Android phones, led to the burgeoning EMM market.

Office Productivity Gets a Boost

When Apple introduced the iPhone 3G in 2008, it supported Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync out of the box, seamlessly integrating the protocol which allows mobile devices to synchronize data with Exchange email. The line between work and free time has blurred more and more. This has given business leaders an edge, as knowledge workers now get work done from anywhere. It has been good for businesses and business productivity.

While Apple helped spur the development of one account that users could share across multiple devices to access music, photos, documents and other content. Google and Microsoft soon adopted the concept, and now the notion that users can have a single persona across different devices is taken for granted.

Read more: Apple iPhone 7: Can Smartphones Get Any Smarter?


A Launch Pad for Beacon Technology

iBeacon technology launched in 2013, opening a new world of possibilities for location awareness and interactions with customers. Leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a mobile device with iBeacon technology can be used to establish a region around an object. This technology allows iOS devices to determine when it has entered or left a region. Beacon technology has changed the way we shop, go to sporting events, and travel with our smartphones.

E-Commerce gets a Global Platform

The iPhone has had an impact not only on how workers use the smartphone, but also on how businesses sell to customers. E-commerce and m-commerce emerged once people had a computer with them at all times. Before the iPhone, only a handful of multinational companies — including DHL, FedEx and UPS — had developed customized e-commerce apps for tablets with barcode scanners. This sent signals back to centralized data centers when packages were scanned or delivered. Fast forward five years, and every company in the world can download an app that does that.

Also, while the iPhone has gone through a number of changes over the years — device size, screen and camera resolution, disappearance of the headphone jack and more — it’s the evolution of iOS and the universe of apps that run on it that has made Apple’s mobile devices indispensable to enterprise workers in the digital age. As Steve Jobs rightly said in 2007, at the launch of iPhone, “What we want to do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been, and super-easy to use. This is what iPhone is… So, we’re going to reinvent the phone.”