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Enterprise experts, who for years have relied on the Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry, are beginning to put more and more faith in the iPhone as a secure business device. And with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) making security improvements to each new iPhone iteration it releases, the BlackBerry’s last remaining advantage may soon be gone.
The Apple smartphone now has 256-bit, hardware-based encryption for data stored on the device, fairly widespread VPN support, and the ability to limit access that each app has to files and hardware resources on the phone. In addition, it allows for centralized control through third-party management software. That means that increasingly, industry experts are beginning to believe that Apple can now provide the security most businesses need.
A recent report by In Trend Micro on mobile devices with security features most relevant to enterprise ranked the iPhone in second place behind the BlackBerry.
“Apple recognized long ago that having successfully reinvigorated the consumer smartphone market, they needed to make some big technological changes to really compete and gain acceptance in the enterprise space, and they have been steadily adding features over time,” Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communication at Trend Micro, told TechRepublic.
The Bring Your Own Device trend also helped open up more enterprises to iOS devices, as more and employees asked to be able to use their own personal smartphone or tablet at work. “People are using iPhones and iPads in their personal lives and asking the question why can’t we use them within the company,” Ferguson said.
John Turner, who heads the IT department at accountancy network BDO LLP, sees no reason to stop his staff from using the iPhone for work. “The differentiation in the corporate world used to be security, but that has been significantly eroded to the point where it’s gone away now,” Turner said at a security event recently. “I’ve satisfied myself that Apple is there or thereabouts [when it comes to corporate security], I think that Apple have caught RIM up.”
If RIM wants to hold onto any remaining advantage, it will need to provide a highly appealing user experience with its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 OS, according to Ferguson. “They already have the minds of the enterprise but they need to be aiming for the hearts of consumers, and that’s a tall order,” he said.
Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed at $701.91, setting another all-time price high on Tuesday.
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