Businesses May Want to Back Off the iPhone Buzz

Today is i-Day, when the iPhone goes on sale at 6 p.m. And while many Apple fanatics and technophiles waited in line for days outside their local Apple Stores to be the first in their neighborhoods to own the much-hyped smartphone, analyst Dan Miller was quick to point out that the iPhone, while exciting for the personal user, is “not suitable for the enterprise.”

The reason, says Miller, the lead analyst at Opus Reaearch, is primarily because it cannot sync “with the mainstays of corporate communications—Microsoft’s Exchange and IBM Lotus variants.”

“Unified communications and collaboration in the corporate setting is a three-company game involving Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, along with a roster of about 30 partners in the voice processing, call processing, application development, and system integration disciplines,” he says. “Their major objectives revolve around unified messaging, informal initiation of audio and video conferencing, and using an IM-like client to track the presence and preferences of individuals in the corporate directory. Neither AT&T Wireless—the sole service provider behind iPhone—nor Apple have made these functions a priority.”

Miller further notes that he is “very disappointed that automated speech processing and a voice user interface are not part of the product’s core.”

Miller was not alone in that  regard, prompting many speech application vendors to take it upon themselves to make their products iPhone-ready. Among them was Parliant Corp., which plans to release PhoneValet Anywhere for iPhone in a few days as an add-on.

With the new PhoneValet Anywhere for iPhone, home and office voicemails are as easy to check on iPhone as wireless voicemail. "Now with one device—Apple's iPhone—you can access calls and messages from all your phone lines, whether the call came in on a standard telco line, a cable phone line, or VoIP line," says Kevin Ford, Parliant president.

Parliant's PhoneValet Message Center features an automated attendant, unlimited voicemail call tree, call blocking, recording, logging and screening, automated dialing, and interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities. PhoneValet Anywhere extends remote access by making call history, messages, and recordings available through any Web browser, especially iPhone's.

iDictate also announced that its telephone dictation service will be available for the iPhone. "The iDictate service turns the Apple iPhone into an awesome go-anywhere dictation device with the finished documents promptly emailed back to the user for final editing,” says company founder Lee Dorfman.

Still, Miller is optimistic about the iPhone's capabilities. "Simplicity will help iPhone’s and its inevitable imitators to cross the line from entertainment to enterprise. It’s the simplest presentation of communications and remote computing options out there and will have a great impact on the design of future user interface," he concludes.

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