Most iPhone fans want devices for business use

IDC survey on iPhone work use flies in the face of security warnings

Despite what skeptical industry analysts and leery CIOs may say, a new poll shows that a large majority of iPhone fans want to use their favorite device for work and play.

The poll, which was conducted by IDC, surveyed more than 350 U.S. professionals who were shopping for mobile devices at MyProductAdvisor.com, a Web site that gives users product recommendations based on their personal preferences. Overall, the poll found that 18% of respondents either owned or planned to buy an iPhone within the next 12 months. Of those respondents, 70% said they planned to use their iPhone for both personal and business functions, including corporate e-mail, corporate Intranet and CRM. The survey also found that roughly two-thirds of all respondents already use some kind of mobile communications device for both personal and business purposes.

However, IDC research analyst Sean Ryan warns that using iPhone and other unsanctioned mobile devices for business could pose major security problems for IT departments.

"Individuals intending to use the iPhone for business purposes are not considering corporate requirements for security and manageability of mobile devices in their decision," he says. "The use of unsanctioned devices, iPhone or otherwise, in the enterprise adds tremendous complexity for IT managers and executives trying to develop strategies around mobility while maintaining control and security over such devices."

Many industry analysts and security researcher have issued warnings about using the iPhone for work purposes. Ken Delaney, an analyst at Gartner, told Network World this past June that firms that let their employees use iPhones for business matters will "have e-mail in a place that's unsecured." He also noted that iPhones have no firewalls, and that companies aren't able to wipe data from the devices if they get lost.

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