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Two alternatives to Exchange for iPhone support

Apple’s iPhone drew criticism when first released because of tepid enterprise business support. Small businesses felt the pain of iPhone envy more sharply than their enterprise counterparts because of the high up front cost of the first iPhone and the back-end support requirements for high-end e-mail and communication servers.

But the second generation of iPhones, the new 3G version, answers almost all these issues. Costs are down to below what many people pay for other smart phones. Integration to existing e-mail servers is faster and easier. Yet those back-end servers still require heavy investment up front and technical support later, especially when loading up a new Microsoft Exchange 2007 server.

Let’s talk about two options for the small business iPhone users who are eager to get full smart phone and mobile computing advantages from their new shiny faced toy, er, iPhone. Neither option includes Microsoft Exchange, saving money and time while supporting the miracle of communication (at least according to Apple).

Another option for iPhone support is a hosted mail provider. There are scores of companies that provide Microsoft Exchange support, now including Microsoft (and it is promising to add more hosted options in the future). Well, scores understates the number of options a bit. Searching on ‘iPhone exchange hosting service‘ turned up 346,000 listings.

With those numbers, picking an Exchange host to pay along with the higher AT&T rates on the iPhone 3G becomes an almost overwhelming choice. I suggest you leverage as many features of your new iPhone as possible, and get as many other advantages as you can.

hosted collaboration service I’ve talked about before, HyperOffice, added iPhone support to its Exchange hosting service, but it added an extra twist. Since the iPhone can run applications, HyperOffice supports shared document storage and collaboration. If you can stand the iPhone keyboard, you can work on shared documents from the same source as your e-mail hosting.

The iPhone’s browser support over 3G turns the Apple version of a smart phone into a real work phone with support from services like HyperOffice. Quite a switch from all the anti-business complaints Apple heard for the initial iPhone release, isn’t it?

People ask me if I’m using an iPhone. Nope. Apple hasn’t given me one, and I didn’t expect them to. But I’m not even considering an iPhone until the QWERTY keyboard runs in landscape mode so I can use two thumbs. Now it runs in portrait mode forcing me to use one finger. Way too slow, and not at all cool.

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