Q&A: Vodafone’s Peter Kelly on the iPhone for business

iPhone 3GS

Vodafone this week unveiled that it will start selling the iconic Apple iPhone from 14 January.

While many have noted the operator's pricing isn't any different than the others selling the device, Vodafone is taking a different tactic, pushing network strength as the reason consumers and businesses alike should buy from it and not rivals Orange or O2 the latter of which saw its network fall over again this weekend.

We spoke to Vodafone's head of enterprise Peter Kelly to find out more.

Why is Vodafone pushing the iPhone as a business device, and why is the device on your network any different than the experience offered by other operators?

It has been directly positioned and sold heavily into the consumer marketplace, no question.

But I think that the iPhone now is absolutely ready for a much deeper penetration into the enterprise space.

Vodafone has phenomenal position in the enterprise market. We're the number one in enterprise with more than 40 per cent market share, more than 50 per cent in corporate and 70 per cent in public sector, and therefore we have a strong mobile presence there with mobile voice, mobile data, mobile email, mobile security, and the market is very much ready for a device like the iPhone.

Because of the power of the iPhone product on the Vodafone network, I think now we can start to see the richer deployment of business applications.

It hasn't been presented well to the business community. And all the applications weren't originally there - there were a lot of consumer applications - but now there's a whole portfolio of business apps that make it a much stronger business tool.

I think Vodafone can fully maximise that for enterprise.

That's a good case for the iPhone, but what about the case for Vodafone?

Today, one in two mobile connections in the enterprise is coming from the Vodafone network, as is one in two mobile email connections. That's coming because the network is so strong around capacity and reliability and I think that's what resonates.

But is the iPhone really a business device? Or is it just one businesses like to use because of the consumer benefits?

The Apple applications store [has] got more than a hundred thousand applications already, but increasing numbers of those are developed for business, whether that's location-based services, collaboration for enterprise, CRM applications, field force applications.

What Vodafone is looking to do, working closely with Apple, is show how they can be integrated into the back office for the enterprise.