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The iPhone 5 at work -- How companies should prepare

Ryan Faas | Sept. 18, 2012
Now that Apple has officially unveiled the iPhone 5, the big question for business users and IT professionals is how it -- and to a broader degree, iOS 6 -- will affect them and their companies.

-- Consider working with your accounting department to streamline the processing of mobile accounts so you can spot trends quickly, perhaps reviewing them before reconciling/paying them.

-- Set a limit on data service expenses or adjust existing an existing limit -- especially if your company uses a BYOD program where the cost of service is shared between the employee and employer.

-- Work with departments where employees will be upgrading the iPhone 5 to determine which carriers deliver the best coverage and performance. Even if your company is a BYOD-only shop, you can provide this information to users choosing to upgrade on their own.

The new form factor

For the first time in five years, Apple has modified the screen size of the iPhone. The old model had a 3.5-in. screen, the same size the original iPhone had in 2007. The move to a 4-in. screen (which has an 1136-x-640-pixel resolution) forced Apple to make the device just a bit longer, and it meand that any iPhone-oriented tools may need to be revised to take advantage of the extra screen real estate. This isn't as big an issue as adopting the iPad's screen size and existing apps and mobile content will display fine on the new iPhone. But as new in-house native apps and web apps are developed or updated, it's worth considering.

The new Lightning connector

The decision to discard the iPod/iPhone/iPad dock connector and replace it with a newer and smaller port is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, the old connector involved technology that's almost a decade old, but it was also a consistent standard across all of Apple's mobile products. That means iPhone 5 owners will be replacing accessories or buying adapter cables.

Apple has already caught some deserved flack over the pricing of its adapter cables and for not making it clear that the new connection won't deliver all of the functions offered by the old one.

While updating to a new standard may not seem like a big deal for consumers, it is going to be a big deal for many organizations, particularly K-12 schools and districts that have invested in thousands of iPads. As additional iPads are purchased, new cabling and possibly even storage and charging systems will need to be purchased or updated. Businesses that have standardized around certain existing accessories, including custom solutions for healthcare, agriculture, industrial companies and even retail operations will all be affected by the switch.

If there's a silver lining here, it's that this can be a phased transition. As new iPhones are purchased, accessories can be bought alongside them. The same will follow with iPad updates.


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