Tech Check

Apple iPhone News: Not All Love Push For Enterprise Customers

A day after the iPhone news from Apple, we've all had a chance to digest the ramifications of the announcements and as you might expect, there's a lot of opinions floating through Wall Street about just how significant, and important the news is.

I, for one, would make the case that the news is extremely significant. Tim Bajarin, the president of Creative Strategies and a long time Apple watcher and expert, says software developer kit (SDK) and the initiatives Apple is taking to grab more enterprise customers are the right technologies at the right time for Apple. And he's not alone.

Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest Securities, who flew down from Portland, Oregon for the meeting, called the news a "landmark event in Apple history," saying the SDK drives a massive increase in iPhone's power, that the enterprise functionality broadens market, and likely drives unit sales. He also says something I was talking about yesterday, that the iPhone in the enterprise opens the door for the broader Mac platform in the enterprise. And he's reiterating his $210 target on the company's shares.

There's also an upbeat report out this morning from Citi. Regarding the SDK, analyst Richard Gardner says touch controls and an accelerometer on the iPhone make it and the iPod Touch "potentially compelling mobile gaming platforms." The news from yesterday also gives him "growing confidence" in Apple being able to meet its target to sell 10 million iPhones in 2008, even though Apple's top three executives, from Steve Jobs on down, have all re-iterated that target over the last week. "We would use recent weakness in the shares to accumulate positions ahead of these June catalysts," which include the broad release of the SDK, the enterprise software, and also Citi's conviction that a 3G version of iPhone will be released then as well. The firm also reiterates its $212 target on Apple.

But there are also some detractors, not necessarily from analysts covering Apple, but those covering the mobile and wireless world. Pablo Perez-Fernandez from Global Crown Capital loves the SDK news, but isn't thrilled with the company's push toward the enterprise. He concedes that "there is no way to argue that Apple's entrance into push email is positive for Research in Motion. He posits that Apple will gain "some enterprise share," but that because of the lack of features and Microsoft's inherent inferiority to RIM and its Network Operations Center (NOC)-push platform, "we expect RIMM to maintain its lead with IT departments and to continue growing at a fast clip."

He adds that NOC-less push platforms have had "little if any impact on RIMM despite the fact that Direct Push has been available since 2005." While Perez-Fernandez makes some compelling points, the fact is the mobile world really hasn't seen a product quite like iPhone. Sure, Crackberries are renowned for their addiction to their devices. But that might be because there was no compelling alternative. Now that iPhone will have Direct Push, that may be just the kick the platform needs to take on RIM more effectively.

I guess we'll have to wait until June to find out. In the meantime, as iPhone continues to gain traction in the marketplace, it seems RIM's BlackBerry and smart phones from Nokia have far more to worry about today than they did before Steve Jobs took the stage.

Questions?  Comments?