New toys, old problems:
Since the iPhone's arrival, Corporate America has reacted in various ways. Some have let employees connect to the corporate network but deny tech support for the devices.
Cisco (CSCO) subsidiary WebEx wants to help executives empty their coat pockets and shed unwanted phones. On Aug. 29, the company will give corporate users a way to access Outlook e-mail via their iPhones with its PCNow service. In March, WebEx began offering PCNow as a way to remotely access computer documents, e-mail, and calendars via mobile devices. The service is now available for the iPhone and will let workers access e-mail, contacts, and files on their PCs. WebEx is offering a free one-month trial, and then the service costs $12.95 per month for one PC, with discounts for those who buy in volume or sign up for an annual contract.
WebEx joins a growing number of companies that have announced or demonstrated services to help iPhone users connect to corporate e-mail since the new smartphone was launched in June. Those companies include Visto, Synchronica, Funambol, and Sybase (SY). On August 2, Synchronica began offering a 60-day free trial of its Mobile Gateway 3.0 service that provides mobile synchronization between Microsoft Exchange and Apple's iPhone. Visto will begin a free trial of its service late in the third quarter of 2007. On Aug. 7, Sybase demonstrated the use of one of its iAnywhere products to sign into corporate e-mail, calendars, and address books at its user conference in Las Vegas but has not announced a product.
Ultimately, a better alternative for corporate users, says Dulaney, is for Apple to follow Nokia's lead and license Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync as Nokia (NOK) did so its Eseries devices could have wireless synchronization for calendar and contact data as well as mobile e-mail from compatible Exchange Servers. In July, BusinessWeek reported that Apple had been in discussions last year with Good Technology (MOT), a leading provider of secure mobile e-mail, about putting Good Mobile Messaging software on the iPhone, but those talks broke down (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/23/07, "Making the iPhone Mean Business").