iPhone: Proceed with caution
Apple's latest gadget charms -- but it also increases your data-disclosure risk
There are two real problems with this article. First, as you'll see in my evisceration, it's pathetically obvious that Mario has, at best, been in the same ROOM as an iPhone. But not for long. Secondly, it barely talks about the "great risk" the iPhone evidently entails and offers no useful information whatsoever on the subject. In other words, it's crap, in the most literal sense of the word.
It's not that I don't like the iPhone's captivating look or slick UI. In fact, I think the iPhone comes closer than most to being the ideal gadget to take with you on the road. What stops me from buying one is that it lacks one vital feature in its remarkable bag of tricks: an Internet connection faster than EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment).
This may be one of the few sensible things is the only sensible thing in this article. I agree that there are people who need cell network connectivity that is faster than EDGE. If that's a hard requirement for you, don't get an iPhone, as it will make you unhappy. Get another device, or wait for an update to the iPhone. There is nothing wrong with allowing needs to outweigh wants. Really.
And if you're a storage administrator, you might benefit from reluctance like mine because you can bank on your end-users bringing these little beauties into the workplace.
Let the douchery begin. First of all, currently, to get any "real" data whatsoever onto an iPhone other than via email, you have to physically connect it to a computer. You can't do it via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and even if you could, so what? Keeping unauthorized devices off a wireless network is a well-solved problem, and keeping Bluetooth off your network is not rocket science either. Even with USB, there are well-known, reliable ways via GPOs on Windows, MCX on Mac OS X, and a dozen ways on Linux/Unix to lock down access to USB ports. At that point, you only have the camera to deal with, and if you care about those, you already have policies in place to handle that problem. But hey, if Mario doesn't fearmonger a bit, then he doesn't get his Dvorak Gold Star.
As for throughput, yes, the iPhone can connect via Wi-Fi to a wireless network at home, in the office, or wherever you can find one. But that's not enough. When you travel, a faster connection such as HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) or EvDO (evolution, data optimized) is a must-have. These days, EDGE no longer cuts it.
As someone who has only ever had EV-DO on one phone in the last 6-7 years, and that a seldom used work cell which is really just a Goodlink testbed, Mario's claim, sans context and qualification, is bullshit. I had a Sprint PPC-6601 for two years. Windows Mobile 2003, 1xRTT. Not EV-DO. Prior to that, a Kyocera 6035 Smartphone running Palm OS 3.5. I think that used carrier pigeon. The point is, no Mario, EV-DO is not a hard requirement for all. In fact, it's only a hard requirement for a small strata of the phone using public. Stop confusing "Mario" with "The population of the planet Earth". Your perceived IQ will be much higher if you do.
As a Cingular -- pardon me, "new AT&T" customer, I know all too well the difficulties of getting on the Internet via EDGE. Downloading multimedia files on the EDGE network is like sucking honey with a straw, only without the sweetness. Uploading files is even worse, much like using dial-up.
Here we see Mario showing us that he knows as much about the iPhone as I know about negotiating diplomatic agreements with the North Koreans: Not a fucking thing. First of all, outside of web page/web 2.0 data, the only way you can use EDGE to specifically get data to or from an iPhone is via email. Considering standard attachment practice, we aren't talking about an insane amount of data here, and about all you can email FROM the iPhone are photos. One at a time. Who the fuck does this by the GB? Mario is talking out his ass here, but hey, when you're going for a two-fer for Dvorakism and Scobleosis, that's what you gotta do.
Certainly, the main appeal of EDGE is its ubiquity. But any mobile gadget that mixes multimedia and the Internet shouldn't require proximity to a Wi-Fi hotspot to offer adequate download capabilities. No wonder hackers are trying to unlock the iPhone and use it on other networks.
How the fuck does someone who thinks that moving an iPhone to a different carrier will have a damned thing to do with EDGE get a column in what used to be a solid IT publication? How? Were I to wax Gruberesque here, I would simply say I'm so fucking high, I can't even see the keyboard. But John's far more precise than I, so I'm going to go with my strength: anger and verbosity. Mario, try actually reading the articles, not the headlines. They aren't hacking them to switch networks, but to switch carriers. Try to keep up, I have to use big words here. Unless Apple has provided 3G GSM hardware in the iPhone, which all indications show they have not, then EDGE is what you get from the cell networks. Period. Just because you hack the iPhone to a different carrier like T-Mobile, or Vodaphone, (yes, I know, in Germany, they're almost the same thing. They may be the same thing in fact, I'm not totally sure.), that doesn't magically take it from EDGE to HDSPDA. Even if it did, it's still on a GSM network, it's just able to use a faster version of that GSM network. In no way can you, in software, turn a GSM EDGE device into a CDMA EV-DO device. That's fucking Star Trek, and you need to take off the Spock ears if you think that. Again, carrier != network. I think Mario's adding Enderlisia for the hat trick here.
Hopefully, future iPhones will have the ability to connect -- without hacking -- to the faster HSDPA or EvDO, two networks that provide a better fit for the product's multimedia prowess. Perhaps even WiMAX to the desktop, when it finally becomes available. Until then, you can reach me on my smartphone.
Hopefully they'll come with Sprint's "anti-theft" technology so I can spang it off your forehead until some sense is able to penetrate the rock therein. It's sad when this is the second most intelligent thing in the article thus far.
From a storage administration perspective, the iPhone -- with its 4GB or 8GB flash drive -- may not seem like much, especially when considering the petabytes of data populating many corporate datacenters today. Yet, taken together, these satellite storage devices could add up to one big burden.
Holy shit, they might also be awakened by the AllSpark, transform, and combine to form Dumbassatator, Pundit Decepticon. Where are the Dinobots when we need them? Are you actually going to tell us something useful, or hand out vague warnings like some kind of lame carnie medium?
According to the Blackfriars' Marketing blog and others, Apple will have sold 500,000 iPhones in the first weekend of availability alone, which if true proves that not everyone is as put off as I am by the lack of 3G connection. Considering just the smaller-capacity device, for every million iPhones sold, the overinflated storage universe will host another 4PB of data.
Quick sojourn into random useless fact shows that Mario is not in fact, a good predictor of the rest of the United States. There is a god. Mario also shows that he's mastered enough math to correctly use a calculator and Wikipedia to figure out what a petabyte is. This is, by the way, the third most intelligent paragraph in the article thus far.
Of course, as an admin, you won't have to manage millions of iPhones. But even the few dozen or hundreds sold to your users will create quite an asteroid belt around your solar, I mean, storage system.
Lame carnie medium it is.
You'll likely not have to worry about those users who just store songs and make calls on their iPhones, but many will find it all too convenient to store e-mail and work-related files on their new toys.
Only if you allow it. If your company has policies against this, then it's not a problem. If they don't, then it's no more a problem than your laptops. If it's only now occurring to you that phones can contain company data, then maybe you should have been a tad more aware of what was going on around you for the last five or so years.
And these users will need help from their admins to sync, back up, and recover those files and messages.
If your users need handholding for iTunes, get them one of those keychain - sized Etch-a-Sketches, they'll never know the difference. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but again, we see that Mario hasn't bothered to even spend some time with someone who actually has an iPhone, and is again, talking out of his ass. Based on this sentence, I doubt he even owns an iPod. Or knows anyone who does.
What's more, an iPhone carrying sensitive files could easily be lost or stolen, landing your company's name in the wrong section of the news. Are you ready to manage that risk?
You mean, just like laptops and USB keys, and all the other ways people can carry around company data? What, this wasn't a problem until June 29th, 2007? What deserted island has Mario been living on if this issue just occurred to him now?
Each company will need to deal the iPhone tsunami in its own way, but whatever your approach, don't underestimate the added risk of data disclosure. Call me paranoid, but just thinking of how many credit card numbers can be stored on a 4GB flash drive is enough to make me cringe.
Not nearly as much as the fact that you got paid for this shit makes me cringe.
Mario Apicella: InfoWorld columnist, douche, and dumbass du jour.