iPhone Now Even More of a Business "Trojan Horse"?

iPhone 2.0: Is ActiveSync an IMAP/CalDAV Trojan Horse?

Warning: We may get medium-geeky here for moment. Adjust your pocket-protectors accordingly.

Apple is using the iPhone to crack their way into the enterprise. No big surprise there. What is surprising, however, is just how Sun Tzu their being about it. How so?

Bottom line, for an end-user, the interface is the app. Sure, we recognize names like Exchange, ActiveSync, even BES, but for most typical users, firing up Outlook or switching on their Blackberry IS their email. They don't see what's going on programmatically behind the scenes, don't care what protocol is hand-shaking and packetizing their data as it zips from server to server in its chaotic relay from sender to receiver. They just see their email, and they just know that it was there when they needed it.

Given that, Apple licensing Exchange ActiveSync becomes more than just interesting. Why? Because they didn't buy Outlook. They're making their own MobileMail app which will seamlessly handle Exchange, but, oh by the way, will also handle MobileMe (the new .Mac refresh already billed as Exchange for the rest of us), as well as the usual Gmail, Yahoo!, etc.

So, for the end user, ActiveSync disappears behind the MobileMail iPhone interface. And if they have a home account, be it MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo!, or whatever, the differences become less and less apparent (especially as push-like technologies propagate the different services), and in the end, ActiveSync disappears and people just think of their MobileMail app.

Meanwhile, the technologies behind MobileMail, with the advent of Snow Leopard Server, get more interesting, especially with Apple offering open, standards-based protocols like IMAP IDLE, and developing and releasing to the Open Source community similar code like CalDAV for push calendar and now, CardDAV for push contacts.

All of a sudden, a business could run an Exchange-like server without any Microsoft like licensing fees (which anyone who has dealt with them can tell you are money trap unto themselves).

Most interesting of all, if a business had deployed iPhones and they decided to switch from Exchange to Snow Leopard (or any *nix server using the FOSS implementations on their own), their end users may not even notice.

Roughly Drafted has more on Snow Leopard and its possible implications for Exchange/SharePoint users.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

O2 to Offer iPhone 3G for "Free"?!

Next up →

Thurrott'ling Logos: MobileMe vs. Windows Me

Reader comments

iPhone Now Even More of a Business "Trojan Horse"?


To be honest...this is what I was waiting for, the domain name isn’t great, thought that they could have come up with something better but, hey, its all good. I mostly use a Blackberry curve although I did have an iphone, which I sold last week on ebay for £300...so I am a happy man. I use the blackberry service as I have family abroad but I pay £10.00 per month with Vodafone for 6mb worth of data, true that is thousands of text based emails but its still £120 per year, with none of the frills or HTML emails (without installing some 3rd party apps on my curve). I like the idea of exchange for the mortal man, it works for me and the 20GB online storage is a bonus. Now obviously you pay for it, but you pay for push email services anyway, so its all about how much you want / need to pay.
If you are a blackberry die hard, then this probably wont appeal, however if you have used both and you are a bit open minded and prepared to be dazzled (hopefully) by apples new initiative then I think that it will be worth giving it a try....that being said, its all about reliability, apple will need to step up, especially if they want to steal the corporate customer and make sure that all the promises can be delivered....we will no doubt see...