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Five Enterprise & Developer Implications of iPhone 4S, iOS 5, Siri

As the headline promises a listicle, let’s just get to it, shall we?

1) Dual-band GSM and CDMA in iPhone 4S. A long-requested feature from an influential, vocal minority: rambling, travelin’ business-types. Now they have a true ‘world phone’ that makes it easy for them to roam overseas, and drop that aging BlackBerry 8830 for good.

Enterprise implication: For non-managed or weakly-managed phones, data roaming is dangerous. Your CEO or biz dev exec could come back from a long trip with a multi-thousand dollar surprise. Especially now that the iPhone 4 S’s data transfer speed doubles to 14.4 Mbps (downstream).  Managing your employee roaming via a true Mobile Device Management (MDM) software like – egregious plug! – Sybase Afaria, becomes even more vital.

2) Three Tiers of iPhone. Til now, Apple only actively sold two iPhones at any given time. Now it’s going after the mass market by 1) introducing the iPhone 4S; 2) ramping up shipments of the iPhone 3GS by making it free (with carrier contract), rather than cutting it, as it would have done in previous upgrade cycles.

Enterprise and Developer Implication: Apple says the iPhone 3GS will run the new iOS 5. But how well? If poorly, then many consumers and enterprises may stay, at least in part, on iOS 4. It may not be at the state of Android, but this does increase, ugh, fragmentation. That means headaches and rewrites for IT managers and developers.

3) Sprint gets the iPhone. It looks like America’s No. 3 carrier just committed to paying $20 billion to share a phone with AT&T and Verizon, with no exclusive or early access  to a 4G-based iPhone 5. I guess this is the best deal Dan Hesse could get from Cupertino.

Enterprise  implication: Sprint is expected to offer unlimited data plans for its  iPhone subscribers. For businesses seeking cost predictability and bandwidth buffets, Sprint  becomes very tempting, I would think.

4) iOS 5 debuts.Enterprise Implications: I covered this when iOS 5 was first announced at WWDC in June, but here’s the rundown again:

– iMessage communications service, aka BlackBerry Messenger killer, that creates a potential new security hole for IT managers to plug with the right MDM software.

– iCloud backup, which is useful for small businesses with no other layer of data protection, but could contravene industry regulations or data privacy laws.

– Over-the-air activation, which greatly simplifies iPhone and iPad deployment for IT managers.

5) Siri voice controls debut. Star Trek teaches us that voice interface is an important feature. But it has almost always failed the real-world test. The voice-recognition software gets confused by a speaker’s accent, or mishears words because of background noise.

Because of Apple’s push for quality, I have some faith that Siri will work well, but I want to, um, hear more.

Developer implication: Apparently, none yet. That’s because Siri for now appears only to work with iOS’s built-in apps like the SMS, calendar, ‘Find My Friends’ etc.  Apple doesn’t appear to have announced an SDK for third-party developers to create their own apps leveraging Siri.

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  • I mean, fair suck of the sauce bottle, how’s this little blighter gonna know what I mean with my long vowels and rising inflection?
    Will it be able to cope with how the real world speaks not just those in 1 Infinite Loop?
    Might just have to set the drop bears onto Apple if siri can’t cut the mustard.

    Bruce from Back o’Burke

    So my real point then, just to be clear, is that many people speak with a wide range of accents and will siri cope?

        • I can’t speak for Australians, but there are significantly different regional accents in America.

          US: New Yawk, Minn-ee-SOH-tan, California Surfer DUDE! and his female equivalent, the Valley Girl, Boston Townie, Southern drawl, etc etc.

          I’ve heard the Brits have some variation in their accents, too…

          • Well I would guess that us folks with the midwestern accent will have the easiest time with the assistant.  I suspect given the fact that Apple is in California, Surfer and Valley Girl should be supported like German is supported by certain software companies out of the box ;).

            Now if it can translate Cajun or Pittsburgese, I will be impressed.

            I think we will all be waiting for the first Siri story where someone ask a question about business cards and ends up getting results for wholesale fish distributors.

            Take care y’all,


          • All very true, and let’s face it every other similar product has been dogged by these problems. Just pointing out one note of optimism! If it really detects the difference between a British accent and an American one that well (a big if until more people try it), then it’s a good sign of the possibilities for at least future refinement by adding more regional accents.

            Great blog by the way, good analysis of the potential impact of the 4S.