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.
Stories by Ryan Faas
While the number of Macs infected by the Flashback malware is seemingly in decline now, the security reverberations for Apple continue. The discovery of the botnet a couple of weeks ago -- and Apple's response -- has prompted criticism by IT security pros, concern among Mac users and even some smug told-you-so's from Windows users who've watched for years while Apple and its fans derided the the omnipresent malware issues plaguing PCs.
Apple's new iPad arrived Friday and will almost certainly start showing up in the workplace this week.
Despite big changes in technology over the past couple of decades, IT departments and the duties of their staff have stayed pretty consistent. The classic model involves helpdesk agents, desktop support staff, systems and network administrators, DBAs and developers, and managers at various levels reporting to a CIO or technology director. It's a system that has worked pretty well, surviving the arrival of the Internet and related shifts in both technology and culture with very little change to the actual duties of staff and running of a department.
Apple surprised the tech world by unveiling a developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion, the next generation of its desktop operating system set to ship this summer - just a year after OS X 10.7 Lion arrived.
Apple has never been considered an enterprise technology company, but it owns a significant share of the mobile enterprise market, largely due to the success of the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air.
Apple billed this summer's release of Mac OS X Lion as having more than 200 new features, but most coverage of Lion in the intervening months has focused on only a handful of them. While iOS-like navigation and app-launching interfaces, autosave/restore capabilities, AirDrop file sharing and an emergency restore partition are by all means important, there are a lot of helpful tweaks and enhancements that can easily be missed.
Apple has made it clear that one of the next industries it hopes to disrupt and reinvent is education. It's an arena the company has a long history of working with: schools have been one of Apple's biggest market since the days of the Apple II.
2011 was a big year for Apple. The company continued to <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218529/Apple_wows_with_record_iPhone_and_iPad_sales_largest_revenues">dominate the tablet market</a>, with no rival coming close the iPad in sales. It also <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220529/OS_X_Lion_sells_6M_copies_grabs_22_share_of_Mac_market">released Lion</a>, an update to OS X that delivered hundreds of new features; pushed out a <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220747/Hands_on_iOS_5_delivers_a_wealth_of_changes_">major update to iOS</a> that finally cut the cord for backups and syncing; <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220766/Apple_launches_iCloud_ahead_of_iOS_5_debut">launched its new cloud service, iCloud</a> (albeit not without some issues); and continued to rack up record sales of Macs.
One of the biggest technology trends this year has been the continuing influx of consumer-oriented into the workplace. From <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9220934/Caution_iOS_5_iCloud_and_the_iPhone_4S_in_the_enterprise">iPads and iPhones</a> to Android phones and tablets, 2011 will go down as the year the consumerization of IT reached a critical mass. It's no longer a question of whether IT departments will support and embrace consumer-first devices, <a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9221289/IBM_opens_up_smartphone_tablet_support_for_its_workers">bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs</a> and the expanded sphere of mobile platforms -- now, the issue is more about when and how.
The knock on managing Macs in business environments has long been Apple's ambivalent attitude toward providing significant enterprise support. Apple does, of course, offer tools for deploying, configuring, and managing Macs. But to move Macs beyond a departmental setting, IT will often find it necessary to look to third parties for help.
No longer relegated to the fringe, Macs are fast becoming integral to today's business organization. As a result, IT can no longer rely on one or two dedicated "Mac guys" to maintain its Mac fleet. Instead, Mac management has become an issue that any CIO or systems administrator may be faced with on any given day.
Apple's iOS 5 and the new iPhone 4S, which went on sale Friday, are packed with new features, many of which should boost the productivity and on-the-road capabilities of professional users. But, as with many consumer-oriented mobile platforms making their way into the workplace, iOS 5 and iCloud service present some serious challenges in business environments.
Steve Jobs (Photo courtesy of Apple)
Well, now we know what Apple meant when it billed yesterday's big announcement as a "Let's talk iPhone" event.