When the iPhone 2.0 came out, most people declared it “enterprise ready“. The iPhone was suddenly not just the coolest mobile phone in the world, but it offered a real working tool for workers on the go – With Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support, VPN connectivity, WiFi and more, the iPhone was finally entering the radar of IT managers. In August Gartner gave it an “official” authorization.
I, however, found it to be lacking one big feature which is enterprise related – video conferencing. The fact that a front facing camera, which is necessary for video telephony, is in the list of the iPhone’s missing features was in my view a big miss on behalf of Apple, if they want the iPhone to be considered an effective corporate working tool (and they do – see here).
And now, 6 months later, Cisco is attempting to bridge the gap between the iPhone and unified communication with the release of WebEx for the iPhone. iPhone 3G users can now enjoy web conferencing and collaboration capabilities using WebEx on the go: they can see shared data, see the participant list, hear the active speaker, and chat with other meeting participants.
Source: Cisco newsroom.
What can’t iPhone users do? You guessed it right – REALLY participate in the conference, as in being the active speaker and using VIDEO, voice and data to express themselves and collaborate.
Why? No front facing camera, no video telephony infrastructure. And it’s even a bigger shame, because the competition for enterprise’s heart, RIM’s Blackberry, doesn’t have such a camera either.
The shortcomings of the iPhone as a corporate tool are numerous (and well-documented). New and Bold competition offers a real alternative (which many regard as much better as a business tool). But even if all other aspects were complete, and iPhone were to be declared as supreme, I would still have a hard time accepting it as the working tool of the future when video is missing.
I have video on my desktop, I have video on my mobile handset (which isn’t even a smartphone), and I have video on my IP phone. Video is the medium of the future. If iPhone wants to be the future, it sure is lagging behind.