Business customers have been waiting for the iPhone to come to Vodafone before signing up for the popular Apple handset, according to the operator, which cited the phone's ease of use combined with Vodafone's technical support and 3G network reliability.
Vodafone made the iPhone available on its network on 14 January, joining Orange, Tesco Mobile and Apple's original partner O2 in carrying the popular smartphone. The company claims to have sold over 100,000 of the handsets already.
However, Vodafone is making more of a push towards the business market than its rivals, despite many industry experts regarding the iPhone as strictly a consumer device.
"We have an opportunity to win customers who have been waiting for the iPhone to become available on a business-focused network," Peter Kelly, enterprise director at Vodafone UK, told V3.co.uk.
"If you are going to deploy mission-critical apps to the field, you need to be sure of the network, and that you can get a connection," he explained, touting Vodafone's "deep and wide" 3G infrastructure.
Kelly suggested that the iPhone's appeal to businesses is down to a touch-based user interface that makes it easy to use, plus the large number of applications available via the App Store.
"Customers are saying they can do new and different things with the iPhone. There are lots of other good devices for mobile email, but because of its user interface the iPhone is starting to bridge the gap between smartphones and netbooks. It's not just for voice, text and email," he said.
As an example, Salesforce.com has a mobile version of its customer relationship management application available via the App Store, and the quality of the iPhone's display means that it can be used for Webex conferencing ses sions.
Both services provide a single phone number for mobile and desk calls, and link to Microsoft's Exchange and Office Communications Server to ensure that workers can communicate with colleagues and customers at all times.
Kelly also predicted that the number of business-focused applications on the App Store will continue to grow, and said that Vodafone plans to expand the number of services that support the iPhone, including managed device services.
The iPhone is currently available on Vodafone's standard business rate tariffs.
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