When Apple first announced the iPhone in 2007, the smartphone market was primarily business-oriented. Sure, you'd find the occasional ordinary consumer with a BlackBerry or a Palm Treo, but most consumers weren't worried about checking their email or managing their calendars with their phones. They were more focused on their flip camera phones. The iPhone - and eventually Android - made the smartphone a consumer device.
Since then, iOS and Android have been steadily chipping away at BlackBerry's former dominance of the smartphone market, to the point that the company is in pretty dire straights. Even in the business market that BlackBerry used to dominate, iOS and Android have made significant inroads. In recent months government agencies and private corporations like Halliburton, the NOAA, the ATF, and the FAA have made plans to either switch from BlackBerry to iOS, or to expand their current use of iOS devices. There has even been speculation that AT&T's recent announcement that they would unlock iPhones for the military personnel was prompted by the military's desire to use iPhone in the field.
For the most part Apple hasn't made any special effort to target itself to the business market. Now that has changed. Over the weekend a new page on Apple's website went live. The iPhone in Business page takes aim at the very business market that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is clinging to for dear life.
The page showcases some of the ways that iPhones can be used in a business setting. The page showcases the some of the iPhone's built-in applications like Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and iMessage. The inclusion of iMessage is a pretty direct shot at BlackBerry Messenger, one of BlackBerry's most popular features among business users. The page also shows off a lot of App Store apps that leverage the iPhone's capabilities for business.
The Integration section of the page shows off all the ways iPhones can be integrated into your business's existing information infrastructure, including email, data security, and mobile device management. The Apps for Business section offers a sampling of apps designed for business users, including apps made by Apple (like the iWork suite) and those made by third party developers. There's also a section that offers resources for businesses that want to develop and deploy their own iPhone apps.
The Profiles section consists of the stories from companies that have deployed the iPhone in their businesses. Some of these businesses, like Lowe's, Dow Corning, and GE, for example, are large and well-known while others, like Jackson Kayak, the Redlands, California police department, and Safe/Sea Marine Rescue, are a little less well known.
Finally, there's a section full of resources for companies that want to deploy iPhones in their business. There are guides and overviews dealing with a wide array of issues related to using iPhone in business, including security, integration with services like Microsoft Exchange, the use of Apple's Configurator to manage devices, and more.
All in all, the iPhone in Business page is Apple's largest and most direct foray yet in to the business market. While Apple has previously been content to work its way into the business world more slowly, this looks like the start of a major push that could mean serious trouble for BlackBerry in the not-too-distant future.
What do you think? Is Apple trying to knock BlackBerry out for good? Do you use the iPhone in your business, or are you still with BlackBerry? Or do you use Android, or another platform altogether? Let us know in the comments.