Purdue University IT: iPhones Are Cool But Don’t Buy One Yet

iPhoneITaP (short for Information Technology at Purdue) is offering advice for potential buyers of the iPhone: Wait. According to Frank Wolf, Mac specialist and systems administrator for ITaP:

“The iPhone is still being considered by many to be a revision-one product when thinking about it in an enterprise. I recommend to the people we support that they hold off on getting an iPhone until the next revision is released.”

Here’s more of his reasoning as to why you should wait:

“Early adopters run a risk of getting left out of more enterprise-friendly features of future releases. The next version of the iPhone is rumored to be 3G-capable, which would bring faster cellular network speeds.”

And he’s not the only one from Purdue’s IT department saying to wait. Julie Kercher-Updike, associate vice president for ITaP, says, “If your primary use for a device is for a phone, Internet access on the go, and reading e-mail, then the iPhone is a pretty slick device. If you want to have up-to-the- minute calendar access, then the iPhone might not replace your Blackberry just yet.”

Apparently, synchronizing the iPhone with enterprise Outlook or Entourage calendars is a hassle and includes some manual processes: “Campus computer users who want to use a handheld device primarily to check and schedule meetings probably will want to continue using a device that synchronizes wirelessly like a Blackberry or other Windows-compatible mobile device.”

Another problem is that the iPhone doesn’t support 802.1x, which makes it so the device doesn’t work with the latest client for accessing Purdue’s wireless network.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone used to new technology. It’s difficult enough to create a breakthrough product, let alone have it interface properly with existing infrastructures. But that isn’t to say that the trade off of having the latest gadget isn’t worth it to some people. It is. But for the rest of us, here’s to the second generation of tech products.

*Update* Coincidentally released the same day, check out this article called Apple: All signs point to a more business friendly iPhone.

*Update 2* Wow. Not sure what’s causing the next gen iPhone news today, but here’s another take that says the next gen iPhone could be here “mid-year.”

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  • Paul Ellis

    I didn’t realize the iPhone didn’t support WPA for wireless networks. That is a joke! So apparently you can either have a secure wifi network or have an iPhone. I didn’t know anyone made new products (much less premium priced products) that didn’t support WPA these days.

  • Logan

    Dah! This isn’t what I want to hear; I’m actually getting close to getting one. Any clue on when we might see a revision?

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Logan-

    I wish I knew! I’ll be making some cellphone/carrier decisions this summer and a next gen iPhone could make a difference in my thought process.

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  • robbh66

    Since when does the iPhone not support WPA?

    You probably mean 802.1x, which many college campuses use.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    robbh66-

    My source is the IT department at a major university (see link in the first sentence of the article above), but they very well could be wrong. If they are, could you provide a reliable source that shows that iPhones can support WPA? I’ll update the post if you (or anyone reading this, for that matter) get back to me here in the comments.

  • robbh66

    You’re the “journalist,” do your own research instead of relying on others. The iPhone and iPod Touch support WPA. Your article is flat out wrong and your source is either wrong, or you misread /misinterpreted it. This is why people should never take blogs seriously.

  • Paul Ellis

    Wow, you are obviously a complete hybrid Apple fanboy/troll. Heaven forbid that someone misspeaks. The iPhone does support WPA (I read it in many places), but doesn’t support 802.1x (which Purdue does use).

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Yeah, robbh66, no need to respond as if I personally insulted you. I never claimed I was a journalist, and you’re right that this is a blog. I simply saw an interesting story, linked to it, and said “here’s some interesting stuff, let’s discuss.”

    The nice thing about blogs is that they can be corrected easily via open discussion. The article above has been updated/corrected.

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  • Frank Wolf

    Actually, the 802.11x (b,c,d, etc.) is supported as it’s a wireless protocol, not an authentication based one. iPhones can connect via an older wireless network on campus via VPN but not the newer one which requires WPA Enterprise capabilities. The current iPhone OS X does not support WPA Enterprise like it’s full blown desktop OS X cousin. It does, however, support WPA personal, which is used by most consumer wireless routers, like the ones you’d buy at Best Buy, Circuit City, or Frys.

    If you’re looking for a good source of info about the iPhone that is a bit more objective than Apple marketing or an Enterprise Computing article, look here:

    http://www.macintouch.com/iphone/faq.html

    The fact that Apple advertised, and assumed to have hired, an Exchange engineer, hints that they’re getting more serious about the iPhone as an enterprise device.

    Cheers!

    Frank Wolf

  • Paul Ellis

    Thanks for the tip on the faq.

    We are actually talking about 802.1x, not any 802.11 (the extra one is all the difference) protocol/feature/etc. It is an authentication mechanism that can be used for LANs or WLANs. The iPhone definitely does not support 802.1x (link). Some people have even started a petition to Apple over it.

    Also, I don’t know about any 802.1x networks other than Purdue’s but Mac OS X’s implementation barely works here. People usually have to authenticate a dozen times or so before it will work.

  • Frank Wolf

    My bad, re-read the article again on the 802.1x references. (It’s a bit disconcerting, not in a bad way, to find your quotes for an internal publication repeated in a public forum) Then there is alway the difference between WEP and WPA.

    The latest version of 10.4.11 had yielded reliable 802.1x connections on my laptop and my desktop. I’ve upgraded both to 10.5.2 and see even better results. (Stay away from 10.5 and 10.5.1 in regards to 802.1x connections) I suspect that most problems mac users have with wireless on campus may not be the OS so much as the wireless card or the access point they’re using. I think older cards, especially the pre AirPort Extreme cards, will have problems. Also, the signal broadcast by the AirPort Extreme wireless cards is pretty powerful and can sometimes interfere with other wireless access points.

    But back to the iPhone. It does things very well that a Blackberry or Windows Mobile device can’t, such as web browsing, playing media files, etc. On the other hand a Blackberry is a “one trick pony” that does it’s trick (email and calendaring) exceptionally well. Right now people have to choose one or the other (media device that’s a phone or enterprise messaging) or put up with a myriad of work arounds. I’m confident this won’t always be the case. In any case, waiting never hurts. That’s why they call it the “bleeding edge”.
    :-)

  • Paul Ellis

    About the 802.1x OS X problem, everyone I know who has issues with it was using a MacBook or MacBook Pro that is less than 18 months old.

    About the iPhone (and BlackBerry and Windows Mobile), they are just positioned different. The iPhone is an iPod that can make calls, browse the web, and do some calendering/e-mail. The BB/WM side of things is such that they are e-mail/calendering devices that can make calls, browse the web, and play music. It is all about how well each device does each function.

    IMO, the only thing that the iPhone clearly does better than any other platform is mobile web browsing. The price is nearly low enough for me to consider one now, but I don’t think I could live with the phone part of the iPhone. Particularly how you look up contacts.

    I have a Treo 680 that is a great phone and PDA. I don’t do e-mail, but the music playback is actually pretty good. Not iPod level of ease, but definitely good enough that I don’t feel the need to purchase a separate MP3 player. BTW, you can get it for -$25 (yes, minus $25) after rebate with a new/renewed contract at Amazon. I could never justify spending $300-$400 more just for the iPhone.

  • http://www.techconsumer.com Bob Caswell

    Frank-

    Thanks for checking in and providing additional insight. One minor quibble: Was the original article I linked to really for an “internal publication?” I mean, it’s a Purdue press release that’s already publicly available to anyone on the Internet.

  • Paul Ellis

    It could be possible that the quote attributed to him was not intended for public release. There is no way we could have known that though as it is a press release from Purdue quoting a Purdue employee.

  • Frank Wolf

    Not a problem for me, really. When asked for the quote I didn’t realize the scope of it’s publication possibilities. It was a surprise for me and not a bad one at that.
    :-)

  • Frank Wolf

    Here’s some updated info that confirms some “predictions”.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080306-apple-iphone-announcements.html

    Enjoy!