Failing Apple iPhone has rising fans

Failing Apple iPhone has rising fans

By Reuters

San Francisco: Mike de la Cruz, a senior vice president with German software giant SAP AG, shows off the latest weapon of the corporate road warrior - his iPhone.

A hit with consumers because it combines a phone, music player and Web browser, analysts say Apple Inc’s iPhone is gaining ground as a business tool as well, and could one day rival Research in Motion Ltd’s popular Blackberry line.

Although sought out by high-end consumers, Apple products have never been accepted widely by business, so major corporate adoption of the iPhone would be a breakthrough.

“It’s fun," de la Cruz said in Boston at an industry conference earlier this week. “It’s so popular."

On 3 December, SAP broke with precedent by saying it would introduce a version of its upcoming customer relationship management software for the iPhone before launching versions for mobile devices from RIM and Palm Inc.

“This isn’t necessarily iPhone deployment by way of the IT department, but it’s by people who really want to use this device and IT is responding in a really positive way," said Michael Gartenberg, analyst, Jupiter Research.

The iPhone’s e-mail service can be configured to work with corporate systems, but it does not “push" the entire message to the device. Contacts and calendars also cannot be updated over the airwaves, but require the iPhone to be physically docked with a computer.

“What really made the iPod take off was when they made it compatible with Windows. So if they made the iPhone compatible with Windows e-mail, meaning Outlook, that would really make sales take off," said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research.

After a launch late in June, Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter ended in September 2006. RIM shipped more than 3 million Blackberries in its second fiscal quarter ended 1 September.

“We’ve said many times that we’re providing a solution in iPhone that many businesses love," Apple chief operating Officer Tim Cook said in October. “Clearly, there are some businesses buying them and very much enjoying them."

“If they get those pieces together, it would make iPhone a much stronger competitor," Wu added.