What the new iPhone means for businesses

Apple's latest devices have received a lot of attention for improvements in things that consumers care about. But perhaps lost in the coverage was what the combination of new hardware and new software means for iPhones at work.

Forrester Research

Apple's announcement yesterday on a new high-end iPhone running its new iOS7 operating system got lots of attention for improvements in things that consumers care about: fashion, entertainment, photography, device protection, and health.

My colleague Charles Golvin went deeper to analyse what these improvements mean to Apple's prospects as a premium phone maker. But perhaps lost in the coverage was what the combination of new hardware and new software means for how businesses can use iPhones at work.

The battle now is for business application developers and vendors, and Apple is on it. The formula for business success has become great products great features for developers to harness a great way to distribute and sell custom and commercial business apps.

Apple's announcement yesterday focuses on the first two elements of that formula:

A focus on management APIs in iOS7 gives business software vendors new hooks to provide business-ready solutions. My colleague Christian Kane has written a Forrester report on the five major improvements in the control APIs. While an iPhone will never natively provide all the lockdown that a security-conscious CIO might want, Apple has consistently listened to the needs of mobile device and mobile application management.

With these new APIs, the ecosystem of security and management vendors can ramp up their products to support CIOs rolling out BYO iPhone programs. Already, MobileIron has talked about what it will do to take advantage of this.

Fingerprint scanning on the iPhone 5s and an activation lock in iOS7 open new doors to enterprise security. My colleague Andras Cser has written about what Touch ID means for the security of the iPhone 5s. My take is that consumers are right to be paranoid about their personal data being snatched off a lost phone and that Apple is helping solve that problem.

But the payoff for business developers is that they have even more assurances that data is safe on an iPhone. If only the CEO can unlock the phone to get to the app, a CIO can rest a little easier that the financial results are safe.

The M7 chip is a sensor hub that lays the foundation for better contextual apps. Apple promoted the health and fitness market as a beneficary of this new chip but it's more than that. By bringing together all the sensor data in a single chip and SDK, Apple is making it easier for developers, especially those focused on business apps on the iPhone5s specifically to use the gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass data to create apps that know where you are and what you're physically doing.

Imagine a time when the app will know that a field service rep is driving and simplify its interface so he can act without looking at the device? That just got easier to create.

Ted Schadler is a Forrester analyst who serves chief information officers. This post was originally published on Forrester Blogs on September 11. Republished with permission.

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