How the new Apple iPhone 5S will impact the enterprise

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Apple on Tuesday finally unveiled the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C smartphones. The response was decidedly lackluster, culminating in $30 billion being wiped off the value of Apple the next day. Despite the lack of "wow" factor however, the new iPhone 5S smartphone does offer a couple of advancements that hint at the state of things to come.

Convergence of mobile devices with traditional computing platforms

On the surface, the decision to put a 64-bit microprocessor into the long awaited--and some would argue, overdue--smartphone is a puzzling one. Despite the many accolades heaped by Tim Cook and his team at the Apple event, it is worth noting that at no point did Apple claim that the 64-bit nature of the A7 processor actually results in improved performance.

Indeed, developers will know that the primary purpose of going 64-bit is really to overcome the limitations of 32-bit processors, which max out at just over 4 billion memory addresses, or 4GB of RAM. With that in mind, it is clear that Apple is working a long-term strategy of adopting 64-bit across its device ecosystem.

And given that OS X Mountain Lion is a 64-bit operating system, the possibility of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) eventually merging its desktop operating system with iOS appears to be a tantalizingly plausible one.

Integrated device security gains new ground

Touch ID is the name of Apple's built-in fingerprint reader that uses capacitance touch technology to create a "high resolution" image of the fingerprint. Significantly easier to use than traditional swipe-based fingerprint readers found in the current generation of laptops, Touch ID looks like it has all the right ingredients for success. Indeed, Apple says that fingerprint data is stored in a protected portion of the iPhone 5S microprocessor, which should make it much harder to crack.

Mary Branscombe on CITEworld described how the sensor uses radio frequency technology to read "from the living layer of skin under the surface of your finger." This makes it more secure than existing fingerprint readers, and because it will only work from a live finger, should presumably serve as a disincentive for muggers to chop off your digit.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you are an Apple detractor or fan, there is no denying the company's influence on the computing industry as a whole. From concepts such as the App Store to the creation of smartphones and tablets that use capacitance-based multi-touch displays, Apple has for some years now forced or influenced the hand of other tech companies. (Hint: Think Intel Ultrabook and Google Android)

While I would be the first to admit that the iPhone 5S doesn't excite me, I am thrilled at how it may force the widespread adoption of a more robust and user-friendly biometric authentication technology in portable devices. And as mobile and desktop operating systems continue their inexorable convergence and the lines between PCs, tablets and wearable devices blur, the enterprise may have no choice but to integrate all newcomers into their infrastructure. - Paul Mah  (Twitter @paulmah)

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