HSBC could boost iPhone's business credentials, but what of employees in Taiwan?
BlackBerry trying to become more "consumer" and iPhone trying to become more "corporate" -- it's an interesting battle that I didn't expect to see when the iPhone was launched last year, and one that could be set to intensify if HSBC follows through on the rumours.
Yes, the world's fourth largest bank could be about to kit out two-thirds of its worldwide workforce with iPhones, ditching the BlackBerrys they currently use. That's around 200,000 of the handsets, and would be a major result for Apple, and a blow to RIM.
Is it likely to happen? CIO of HSBC Australia/NZ, Brenton Hush, said that "it's definitely something we are considering from a HSBC Group perspective. We always explore the potential application of new technologies and this is no different."
I'm not convinced, though, and here's why:
Lack of business functionality
Apple has built more corporate-friendly functionality into the iPhone, such as Microsoft Exchange support, improved email features, secure wipe, and the ability for corporations to specify ad-hoc and custom applications, but it still doesn't have the complete package offered by BlackBerry.
Apple could add more features through subsequent software updates, or allow customised applications to be used by any company taking a iPhone order, but there's no "out of the box" solution at present.
Poor battery life
Regardless of the current 3G connection problems, the battery life of the iPhone 3G is not as good as the BlackBerry.
Granted, business users are going to have to exercise self-control, prioritising battery life for calls and emails over the desire to play Super Monkey Ball, but losing power when out in the field is not going to be popular.
The iPhone is currently available in 17 countries where HSBC operates, and is coming soon to another 25, but that still leaves at least 36 countries where Apple is not planning to launch the iPhone. That could be a problem, unless those are the 100,000 employees who wouldn't get iPhones.
|X||British Virgin Islands|
|X||Isle of Man|
|X||Palestinian Autonomous Area|
|X||United Arab Emirates|
The iPhone is likely to cost significantly more to purchase, unless HSBC cuts a deal with Apple. Running costs? Hard to say, but unless the company moves to relying more heavily on data than voice and SMS, it could be more expensive running an iPhone, depending on country.
The BlackBerry is generally available on a wider range of mobile networks than the iPhone, leading to better deals and improved coverage.
Should HSBC choose to invest in iPhones, it will be a major coup for Apple, and is sure to make other companies sit up and take note.
Despite that, it's not likely to cause a major shift away from the BlackBerry to the iPhone. Many companies are happy with the security, reliability, and familiarity of the BlackBerry and aren't likely to change without a seriously compelling reason.
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