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Apple iPhone Unlikely to Attract Feds' Interest

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By Daniel Pulliam June 27, 2007

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Despite receiving rave reviews from major technology reviewers (here, here and here), Apple's cell phone/music player/video player/web browser device dubbed the iPhone will not likely make its way into federal markets anytime soon.

Federal information technology shops have provided mobile e-mail devices that double as cell phones to thousands of officials in the last few years, but the drawbacks of adopting Apple's new technology device will make agency chief information officers hesitant about rushing to the nearest Apple or AT&T store to purchase the much hyped device.

According to a MacWorld report, the analyst firm Gartner will tell IT decision-makers to avoid the iPhone and to keep it off their networks because it lacks support for services like Microsoft Exchange and does not have security functions like a firewall.

“We’re telling IT executives to not support it because Apple has no intentions of supporting (iPhone use in) the enterprise,” Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney says. “This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities and it’s important that it be recognized as such.” …

“You’ll have e-mail in a place that’s unsecured. There are no firewalls on the device. There’s no ability to wipe (data from) the device if it’s lost,” Dulaney says.

Businesses have little, if any interest in the iPhone and Apple isn’t marketing it to the business sector anyway, says Randy Giusto, who leads IDC’s analysis of mobile devices, computing and computer markets.

“The iPhone is not positioned at all for the IT world,” he says. “It’s a very personal device. Most corporations are probably not going to support the iPhone on their networks.”

In addition to the technical challenge, an agency official looking to procure the device for government use will not likely be able to use the General Services Administration's schedules program.

A GSA spokeswoman said the agency doesn't initiate iPhone approval for sale on the multiple award schedule 70, a popular IT acquisition vehicle. The contractor, in this case Apple or AT&T, initiates the approval for sale on MAS 70, the spokeswoman said. As of a week ago, "no one has indicated customer demand but then again the phone isn't out yet."

As for Apple's plans, an Apple spokeswoman told Tech Insider last week that all the public information the company can provide on the iPhone can be found at www.apple.com/iphone or www.apple.com/pr. She did not say whether Apple would attempt to place the product on GSA's schedules.

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