Apple iPhone 5 Debut Could Accelerate BYOD

Apple’s iPhone 5

The iPhone 5’s marketplace debut is Sept. 21, and nobody seems to doubt that customers will form a lengthy line around many Apple stores in order to get their hands on the device.

While the iPhone 4S didn’t offer much aesthetic variation over the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 deviates in major ways from what’s viewed as the “standard” iPhone design. The screen has been upgraded from 3.75 inches to 4 inches, and Apple’s designers have pared down its thickness and weight even more. The shiny glass backing of the iPhone 4S has been replaced with the same anodized 6000 series aluminum used in Apple’s notebooks (the everything-glass aesthetics that defined the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S remain in the iPhone 5’s front, as well as the glass inlays on the back). Apple even redesigned the ear-buds.

If it’s a given that consumers will flock in droves to buy the new device, how will businesses react—particularly businesses that allow employees to sync personal smartphones with company data?

Forrester analyst Ted Schadler feels that the iPhone 5 could have a seismic effect on BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”), sparking a flood of new personal devices onto company IT infrastructure. “Apple generates enough excitement to force a refresh of its best customers—your employees,” he wrote in a Sept. 12 blog posting. “That means they will be giving their iPhone 4s and 4Ss to family, friends, and maybe their colleagues. That means more iPhones walking through the door on September 20th.”

That raises some key questions for IT administrators, of course, including security-related ones. A recent iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report suggested that, while CIOs and other IT-related executives have been more than happy to allow personal devices into organizations, security upgrades haven’t necessarily kept pace. “Some mobile workers reported not having remote wipe capabilities on their business smartphones or tablets,” the report mentioned. “Only 74 percent said their company required security features on their mobile phones.”

If the iPhone 5 accelerates BYOD, then those IT administrators will need to take a harder look—if they haven’t done so already—at everything from remote wipe to mandatory passcode locks on phones. Interest in the iPhone could also unleash a host of new business apps from designers looking to take advantage of the latest smartphone’s larger screen size and faster A6 processor, which in turn could raise a host of questions about data management, access and security.

Schadler believes that iOS 6 will result in “more security, more management APIs, and more and better network connectivity,” all of which could appeal to IT administrators and other company pros.

How Big of a Hit?

Schadler also feels that the iPhone 5 will harm Microsoft (“it doesn’t have the ecosystem that Apple does”) but not Android (“500 million Android phones can’t be argued with. Android is here to stay. Google is playing to win”).

Meanwhile, analysts and economists generally expect the iPhone 5 to be a hit. Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, sent a note to clients (excerpted in The New York Times) stating the firm’s equity analysts believed Apple would sell around 8 million iPhone 5 units in the United States in the fourth quarter of this year. “Sales of iPhone 5 could boost Q4 GDP by $2.3 billion, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate,” he wrote. “This would boost annualized GDP growth in Q4 by 0.33%-point.” (He clarified the math in an update to that Times piece.)

And at least one analyst took the opportunity to have a little fun with Apple’s ever-slimmer design. “If this accelerated rate of thinning (sharpening?) continues, Apple iPhones will be able to slice your finger off in 2026,” Gartner analyst Craig Roth wrote in a Sept. 12 blog post. “In that year the iPhone 19 will be .45mm thick compared to a Schick Stainless blade at .40mm. I’ll save hundreds of dollars a year on shaving! The device pays for itself.”


Image: Apple