Monday, July 2, 2007

The Apple iPhone: Good for telecommuters and home business owners?

Friday evening, the Apple iPhone hit the shelves at Apple and AT&T stores across the United States to a market of salivating consumers and a crush of media. The new phone, part cell phone, part web browser, part iPod, may revolutionize cell phone usage. But could this pricey gadget make the lives of telecommuters and home business owners any easier?

What the iPhone can do

Like the original Macintosh computer, the iPhone makes mobile computing fast and simple with no pull down menus and a one-touch button on every screen returning you to the main menu.

For $20 a month on the AT&T service plan (AT&T exclusively for about 5 years) employees away from the office can enjoy access to email and web browsing with the touch of the screen.

Email and voicemail is easily accessible, both as a list of available messages. No computerized operator prompting you to dial one to listen to messages; you can select which message to hear and which to save for later. Word, Excel, and pdf files sent as email attachments can be viewed on the go giving you instant access to important information.

Users can manage interruptions. If listening to music or viewing video, you can accept a call by simply activating the microphone built into the headphone wire, instantly pausing all other media until the end of the call.

What the iPhone cannot do

The biggest concern from business owners has been the lack of third party support for iPhone applications. Apple will design and release software for the phone only as needed. Third party software will not be adaptable to the phone.

While you can view Word and Excel documents on the go you cannot edit them on the iPhone without using some sort of online document service, such as Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets.

The iPhone interfaces best with a Mac. Business owners using a PC will have more difficulty, although the iPhone is programmed to work with both.

The lack of a keyboard makes much typing difficult. Unlike its Blackberry and Treo counterparts, the iPhone utilizes a touch screen keyboard with word recognition software that takes some getting used to.

The battery life of the new iPhone is adequate for most days away from the office. With 8 hours of talk time and up to 24 hours of audio, the battery will need to be charged every other day or so. However, like other Apple products, when the battery dies after a few years, the consumer cannot replace the battery. The iPhone must be shipped back to Apple for a new battery at a fee to the user.

Is the iPhone for you and your business? Does constant access to the web and the office make it easier for you to work or harder for you to separate yourself from work? The success of Apple’s iPhone will soon tell.

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