The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch – will they be used in business?

Apple has announced its iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, along with capabilities such as Apple Pay, NFC and health monitoring

Apple has announced its new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch device, along with capabilities such as Apple Pay, near-field communications (NFC) and health monitoring.

The iPhone 6 is available in two models – a smaller handset similar to the iPhone 5S; and the iPhone 6 Plus, which has a bigger screen.

As the adoption of larger form factors such as phablets rises, many argue these devices have a greater appeal for consumers.

Clayton Locke, chief technology officer at financial services provider Intelligent Environments, said some consumers prefer to use larger screens for services such as mobile banking.

“According to our recent research of 2,000 UK consumers, a quarter (25%) said they would use mobile banking services more if their smartphone had a 5.5in screen, like the iPhone 6 Plus,” he said.

“Banks tell us the larger screen size will allow them to offer consumers more detailed banking information. For example, banks now have the screen real estate to provide customers with diagrams such as spend pie charts and thermometers showing savings progress,” Locke added.

Apple’s iPhone 6 handsets contain a near-field communications (NFC) antenna, as well as a secure element chip where data is stored. Users can touch their phone to a contactless payment reader while using Touch ID for authentication.

But, while this feature will likely be popular in the US, it will be more difficult to implement in the UK, where mobile wallet services have not yet been taken up on a wider scale - and where UK consumers are already using Chip and PIN and contactless cards, neither of which are widely used in the US. This means the NFC feature may initially fall flat, despite the Apple-generated anticipation.

Will businesses buy it?

However, with improved features come high price points. The iPhone 6 starts at £539, making it even more expensive to include in corporate-owned, personally-enabled (Cope) schemes.

Also, although the software development kits announced at the WWDC 2014 conference opened more doors for developers, and the partnership with IBM is set to tackle the issue of mobile device management (MDM), Apple still takes a hands-off approach to support for enterprise adoption.

“Our research shows that one in eight small and medium businesses use mobiles as their primary channel of business communication,” said Duncan Higgins, marketing director at Virgin Media Business.

“It’s easy to get side-tracked by exciting new consumer features, but we shouldn’t forget that for a sizeable portion of UK plc, these phones are a shop window, checkout, account ledger, in-tray, meeting room, stock inventory and networking tool all in one. The faster the processing power, the more they can get done, and the better for our national bottom line,” he added.

Wearable technologies need stand-out features

According to Forrester, 25% of US-based adult web users anticipate purchasing a wearable device in the next year. But research by Juniper found many consumers were reluctant to adopt wearables where they had similar functionality to smartphones.

The features of the Apple Watch could allow consumers and enterprises alike to receive phone alerts and make contactless payments without having to take out their phones.

Although the Watch Apps developer kits will help an enterprise push, many believe consumers are more likely to adopt wearables now they have seen Apple’s offerings.

"Apple will legitimise and create the mass-market wearables category. Smartwatches shouldn't be an exercise in screen miniaturisation; instead, they should help users to interact with the physical world more effectively,” said J P Gownder, vice-president and principal analyst at Forrester.

“With NFC, Apple Pay and health and fitness monitoring, the Apple Watch interfaces with retailers, healthcare providers and the human body to create a value proposition that's different from simply pulling a phone out of one's pocket," said Gownder.

A recent study by Beecham Research also found that wearables need to have the right combination of functionality and aesthetics before consumers will consider using them, which could push the Apple Watch ahead of the competition due to its merging of customisation and features.

But there have also been worries surrounding the security of Apple devices following the recent hack of iCloud to obtain celebrity photos. However, Apple claimed these leaks have nothing to do with its security protocols.

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