iPhone Provides New Option for Executives

By Reuters  |  Print this article Print

Apple's iPhone has been infiltrating the enterprise for quite some time, sneaking inside the firewall in executives' pockets. Even bankers are tossing their BlackBerry smartphones in favor of Apple's iPhone. Can Android be far behind?

RIM had the biggest share of the U.S. smartphone market at 36 percent, ahead of handsets running Google's Android operating system with 28 percent and Apple with 21 percent, according to a recent study by NPD Group.

Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp launched an initiative to offer its staff the choice of BlackBerry or iPhone to access corporate email in June 2009. Now the bank picks up the cost of the data plan for its employees in Singapore, Malaysia, China and overseas branches.

"This initiative is not intended to replace the BlackBerry. Rather, we want to provide our colleagues with another option to access their office email and sync their contacts, notes and calendar while on the move," said Peter Koh, head of technology infrastructure at OCBC. "Our colleagues can continue to enjoy the features and content available on their iPhone without the hassle of carrying another device in order to access office email."

Meanwhile, some small, privately-held financial companies, consultancy and law firms have also started allowing employees to port corporate emails to their personal iPhones on request, bankers and asset managers told Trading China, a Thomson Reuters online community for financial professionals focusing on the Greater China market.

The biggest issue for most companies choosing telephone and email hardware is data encryption, said Macquarie's Lin.

"RIM has a system that is more effective than most other handset makers, so if there is a shift toward the iPhone it's not going to happen overnight but rather a slow and gradual change." he said.

(Additional reporting by Michael Wei in Beijing and Kelvin Soh in Hong Kong)