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CIOs pooh-pooh the iPhone

'It's no Blackberry'

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Four out for four CIOs agree: the iPhone is no match for the Blackberry. Last night, at an event hosted by Silicon Valley's tech-happy Churchill Club, four high-profile CIOs - representing Google, Hasbro, Levi Strauss, and health care giant McKesson Corp - were asked if they'd carry an iPhone for business purposes, and all four said "No."

Meanwhile, three of the four said they won't let their employees carry Apple's latest status symbol - at least, not in an official business capacity.

The lone dissenter was Google vice president of engineering Douglas Merrill, who likes to play up the company's anything-goes attitude. "People come to me everyday and say 'Can I have an iPhone,'" he said. "My answer is 'Yes - if you give me back your Blackberry.' If they're willing to make that sacrifice, so be it."

The others pooh-poohed such egalitarian policies. "We're not willing to support it with our infrastructure - yet," said David Bergen, chief information officer at Levi Strauss. "We're not Google. We have very strict standards for our devices." Along the same lines, Hasbro CIO Douglas Schwinn said the company might use the device for research and development purposes, but not for everyday business use. "We've made a strong statement that Blackberry RIM is the way we're going at this point in time."

McKesson's Randall Spratt went even further, saying that the iPhone was "as big a departure" for current Blackberry shops "as you can imagine." But he acknowledged that the device would soon be one of the many phones available to company employees.

The device some are calling the Jesus phone won't run third-party applications, and in most cases, it doesn't tie into existing business infrastructures, which typically rely on PC-based rather than Mac-based applications. Most notably, the iPhone doesn't officially work with "push" email platforms such as Microsoft Exchange - though there are workarounds.®

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