iPhone Ready to Rumble With BlackBerry

Apple today unveiled enterprise features for its wildly popular iPhone that will be available via a software update scheduled for release in June. With extended support for Exchange (Apple has become a full ActiveSync licensee), the iPhone will be able to receive push email, calendars, contact, address lists and other features, the company said during a presentation of the iPhone Software Roadmap. Other enterprise security features include WPA2/802.11X support, Cisco IPsec VPN, identities, certificates, and remote wiping of the device.

applerimstock.jpgThis is Apple’s (AAPL) attempt to take on the BlackBerry, the popular communications device made by Research In Motion (RIMM). The news helped push RIM’s stock down nearly 4 percent, even though it will be a while before the iPhone can become a real challenger to the Canadian company’s ubiquitous device.

Also today, marketing head Phil Schiller unveiled the iPhone software development kit (SDK), which will give outside application developers the same level of access to the iPhone’s capabilities as in-house Apple developers. The new API is called Cocoa Touch; it will support multi-touch events and controls, localization, alerts, the image picker, camera, and the accelerometer. There will also be an iPhone simulator for developers to test their code within a development environment.

Just as Apple granted us access to podcasts through the iTunes store, iPhone applications will be accessible through a new program called AppStore. Also due to be included in the upcoming software update, AppStore will display application categories including games, health, finance, lifestyle, just added and top picks that can be downloaded directly onto the device. Developers will be able to independently add their applications to the AppStore and price them however they want (including free), with 30 percent of the revenue going to Apple as overhead.

And finally, as the event was wrapping up, Apple demoed the iPhone’s gaming capabilities, including introducing a working demo of AOL Instant Messenger and a Salesforce application. Electronics Arts said it will be porting its popular Spore game to the iPhone as well.