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CIOs, who will buy iPhone 7? Your users

Apple adds a better camera and takes away the headphone jack. Employees care; so should CIOs. Also in Searchlight: HPE slims down; Google gets ready for Apigee.

Apple showcased its upcoming smartphone, the iPhone 7, this week in a ballyhooed San Francisco event: It's water-resistant, comes in brilliant black and the Plus model has a dual-lens camera that takes professional-grade photos. But what's missing grabbed most of the attention: the headphone jack.

On The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert delivered a parody of Wednesday's release, dressed in the style of Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an untucked dark-blue shirt. He took away not just the headphone jack but also the home button, the glass front -- and the back.

"We thought, if less is more how much more could we less?" he said.

Apple's all-too-serious move to remove the connection to its iconic white earbuds and urge people to use cordless AirPods -- sold separately for $159 -- points to the company's vision of a "wireless future," which could someday extend to home appliances, cars and more. There was other news: Nintendo's Super Mario is coming to the App Store, and you can be part of the Pokémon Go scavenger hunt on a revamped Apple Watch.

It was a consumer tech show for sure, with no mention of business. But CIOs should take notice. Even though its iPhone sales have flagged recently, Apple still sells big to consumers -- and those who buy also go to work.

"CIOs would be best served by paying attention to what kind of technology their employees like and prefer to use," said Christopher Voce, an analyst at Forrester Research. "But most important, focusing on how mobile can help them, because the business impact is undeniable."

Apple-to-apples comparison

Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, said CIOs should think about the new iPhone 7 features and other Apple announcements in digital-transformation terms: "What can we deliver to mobile devices both internally and externally?" he said.

The Apple Watch, for example, which comes with a faster, dual-core processor, might be able to run business applications that couldn't be run before. And apps may require tweaking to offer what the new phone has.

"If I'm delivering an application that allows people to take pictures of something," Lazar said of a CIO, he or she should "make sure that I can support the enhancement that the camera provides."

Overall though, the tweaks Apple introduced were incremental, Lazar said, and won't have as big a business impact as the release of the new mobile operating system, iOS 10. The new version, which will be released Sept. 13, will work with third-party applications like corporate phone systems from Cisco or Microsoft, making it easier for workers to make business calls from their personal devices.

Hefty, hefty iPhone 7

But some of the tweaks Apple was proudest of, like the iPhone 7's new "ruggedized" exterior, could prove beneficial in a number of contexts, Voce said, including retail and air travel -- and it will compete well with efforts rivals like Samsung have been doing to make their devices tougher and more resilient to drops and bad weather.

"There are scenarios where organizations might use devices in less-than-ideal conditions," he said. "You get on a flight nowadays -- every flight attendant is going to have a mobile device, and it usually has been ruggedized to a certain extent."

Apple also debuted real-time collaboration capabilities in its iWork productivity suite -- which includes word processing, presentation and spreadsheet applications. The new feature will allow people working on the same project to contribute images, text or graphics.

That may seem like Apple wants a piece of the market segment dominated now by Microsoft, with its Office suite, and to a lesser extent Google, with its cloud-based Apps for Work. But its impact will be primarily in education, not business, Voce said. Making inroads in business would be "extraordinarily difficult."

Lazar's forecast: "Most people won't be using iWork in a business context."

'Increased competition'

The Apple rollouts may have another, less-direct effect on business, Voce said: It may very likely trigger industry-wide change. The company has "spurred an intensity" in the tech market, Voce said, pushing Microsoft to make its Surface tablet offering easier to use, for example, and Dell to improve its XPS computer line.

"What you've seen is that kind of focus on experience has driven the whole industry to raise their game," Voce said. "And as consumers and employees, we benefit. Apple led that charge and the benefit is increased competition."

CIO news roundup for week of Sept. 5

The iPhone 7 and other Apple upgrades prevailed in the news this week. Here's what else made headlines:

HPE is slimming down. Hewlett Packard Enterprise will spin off and merge its non-core software assets with UK-based technology firm Micro Focus in a deal valued at $8.8 billion, HPE said Wednesday. "With today's announcement, we are taking another important step in achieving the vision of creating a faster-growing, higher-margin, stronger cash flow company well-positioned for our customers and for the future," Meg Whitman, president and CEO, said in a press release. HPE's non-core software assets -- Application Delivery Management, Big Data, Enterprise Security, Information Management & Governance and IT Operations Management -- will combine with Micro Focus' portfolio to help drive software innovation and create a "Pure-play" software company, according to the release. HPE shareholders will have a 50.1% ownership of the merged company, and Micro Focus will pay $2.5 billion in cash to HPE. This follows the announcement in May that HPE would merge its IT services business with Computer Sciences Corp.

Google plans to acquire Apigee. The search giant said it is set to acquire San Jose, Calif., API management provider Apigee for $625 million. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are used by developers to interface and integrate with outside applications and services, and "the addition of Apigee's API solutions to Google cloud will accelerate our customers' move to supporting their businesses with high-quality digital interactions," said Diane Greene, senior vice president for Google Cloud services, in a blog post. The deal is expected to close by end of this year. Apigee was founded in 2004 as Sonoa Systems, and the company went public in 2015. Its customers include Walgreens, AT&T, Burberry and Live Nation. In other Google news, the company announced its partnership with Box on Wednesday.

Intel boosts computer vision strategy. In an effort to bolster its RealSense platform, chip maker Intel is acquiring computer vision startup Movidius, Intel announced Monday. Movidius designs system-on-a-chip (SoC) products, and its low-power and high-performance SoC platforms will help accelerate Intel's computer vision applications, said Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager at Intel's New Technology Group, in a blog post. "This acquisition brings algorithms tuned for deep learning, depth processing, navigation and mapping, and natural interactions ... and machine intelligence," Walden wrote. Intel will deploy Movidius' vision chip technology in devices like drones and robots, and use it to improve augmented, virtual and merged reality technologies.

Mobile device infections on the rise. Smartphones accounted for 78% of infections detected in mobile networks during the first half of 2016, according to a new report by the Finnish mobile phone company Nokia. The report's data was aggregated across the networks where the Nokia NetGuard Endpoint Security solution is deployed. The report found that the smartphone infection rate rose 96% between January and July this year when compared with the second half of 2015. The mobile infections hit an all-time high in April, with malware affecting one out of every 120 smartphones, the report states. Android devices where the most targeted, accounting for 74% of all mobile malware infections. The Nokia Threat Intelligence Report - H1 2016 identified Uapush.A, Kasandra.B and SMSTracker as the top three mobile malware threats, accounting for 47% of all infections.

Check out our previous Searchlight roundups on WhatsApp's new privacy policy and the recent Dropbox hack.

Assistant editor Mekhala Roy contributed to this week's news roundup.

Dell EMC: World's largest storage company

The acquisition of EMC by Dell Technologies was finalized Sept. 6, 11 months after Dell first disclosed the $60 billion deal. Here are articles from around the TechTarget network on what IT professionals can expect from the new Dell EMC:

Open for business: SearchStorage's Dave Raffo explains it will take a while to address all lingering concerns about the new company.

RSA status quo: SearchSecurity's Michael Heller reports that the security division of EMC expects few changes internally or in how it serves its customers in the wake of the merger.

Two paths: SearchDataCenter's Robert Gates discusses the implications for IT pros of Dell going big and HPE getting smaller.

Bowl of steam: Industry watcher Ed Scannell gives his take on the official closing of the biggest deal in tech history. 

Next Steps

iOS 10 brings Siri, Messenger and Maps tweaks

Stronger security, control in iPhone 6

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