Opinion: Apple Makes Its Best Enterprise Play Yet

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Image credit: MacRumors

If there’s any reason for a business to shun Macs and the iPhone after Monday’s upgrade announcements at WWDC, it’s got to be because the IT department is on the take or it simply doesn’t want its employees to use the best computers and smartphone on the market.

Perhaps flying under the radar among major announcements of upgrades to the company’s notebook computer line, Apple offers with OS X Snow Leopard — and the new iPhone OS 3.0 — significant improvements to a few areas of special interest to business customers that should enable Apple’s devices to make greater inroads to acceptance in the enterprise market.

Chief among them, of course is new seamless integration with Exchange, the Microsoft mail/contacts/calendar service used by the vast preponderance of enterprise customers today.

The WWDC demo by Craig Federighi, VP of Mac OS Engineering Monday showed how easy it is to add an Exchange account using Snow Leopard, with the OS supporting auto-discovery of Exchange servers, with all email/folders/to-do lists being automatically populated and Spotlight immediately able to search all data. Quicklook even lets users preview MS Office documents through Mail, even when Office isn’t installed on the Mac.

Event invitations can be accepted or denied right through Mail. iCal and Address Book automatically have all appropriate data once Mail is setup. One or more contacts can be dragged & dropped into iCal to automatically create a meeting and Calendar events support resource allocation, including people’s schedules and room availability.

What more does the IT department want?

How about data encryption for the iPhone, the ability to locate a user’s mobile device on a Google map using the new Find My iPhone service on MobileMe and remote secure data wipe for phones that are truly lost?

Apple has always been looked upon by enterprise interests as a maker of things for creatives and other ‘unserious’ users, but Monday’s announcements surely throw down a gauntlet in the matter of those who are serious about their computing and communications going forward.