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Thursday, June 28, 2007, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Jobs hints at iPhone corporate e-mail support

Apple Inc.'s chief executive has confirmed that iPhone will ease its way into workplaces after all, according to a new interview.

Speaking alongside AT&T's recently promoted CEO Randall Stephenson about the iPhone's release in a joint interview, Jobs delivered a small but significant hint that Apple would quickly address concerns about integrating its phone mail client with business e-mail systems.

"You'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks," he said. "We have some pilots going with companies with names you'll recognize. This won't be a big issue."

Access to work e-mail has frequently been cited as one of the primary roadblocks to the iPhone's acceptance beyond personal use. Many, though not all, companies with larger-scale e-mail systems currently use Microsoft Exchange — a service which Apple will only partially support with the shipping version of its handset, which so far connects to Exchange only through the IMAP e-mail protocol.

The concern that workers may pressure employers to integrate the iPhone regardless of actual support has prompted some to develop workarounds, such as a web-based service from Visto.

Jobs' interview time also provided the executive an opportunity to publicly comment on the expected turnout for the Friday iPhone launch. There have been no serious concerns about lineups getting out of hand as most Apple fans have been "respectful" in the past, he said. The 6PM lineup was also chosen to give as many people as possible a chance to buy the phone during daylight hours without leaving work.

When asked about the growing possibility that the iPhone will sell out by the weekend and that people might clamor for paid pre-orders, the Apple CEO was direct in advising eager buyers to wait for the next shipment.

"You're going to have to come back in," Jobs said. "When you start taking people's money and can't deliver the product, there are lots of legal issues. It's easier to disappoint people."