Independent security software developers are helping Apple's iPhone gain a foothold within corporations that were once the exclusive domain of Research In Motion's BlackBerry.
The shift reflects efforts by some companies to accommodate employee preference for Apple's iconic smartphone, a trend that has led software makers to develop programs to deliver secure email and other data over the handset.
The BlackBerry's security features make it an industry favourite, but the new programs could mean that many employees no longer have to carry a company-sponsored BlackBerry in addition to their personal iPhones.
One company that is experimenting is Deutsche Bank. In conjunction with California-based software maker Good Technology, the German bank is delivering corporate email to some employees in a trial that its internal analyst said was "overwhelmingly positive" despite some minor flaws.
"You're seeing consumers, or employees, bring their iPhones in to IT managers and 'say make this work'," Deutsche's Chris Whitmore said.
Good and other security specialists like MobileIron and NetHawk are developing programs that can provide the extra assurances required by financial services and healthcare providers, which require airtight communications.
"What Good is very good at doing is going into an enterprise where they're very concerned about security and saying 'We're going to beef up the iPhone and iPad because they're not very secure'," analyst Jack Gold of J.Gold Associates said. "It basically puts a lockbox around an unsecure device."
Good says it has more than 4,000 enterprise customers, including 40 Fortune 100 companies and more than 100 of the Fortune 500 companies.
Apple's push into boardrooms and sales offices also reflects the headstart it has with its iPad tablet, introduced almost a year ahead of RIM's PlayBook. Companies should be able to begin PlayBook trials within weeks for a March launch.
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