The iPhone smartphone offers its users the ability to network with other iPhone users, smartphone users, cell phone users and computer users through a variety of tools and applications. Networking capability ranges from standard phone use to the use of popular social networking sites like Facebook to tools that allow you to network with businesses around the world.
Standard Networking Features
The iPhone is a 3G capable device that connects to its carrier's 3G network. Users are able to place phone calls to any phone number and send text messages to any cell phone user on any cell phone provider network. When connected to a 3G or Wi-Fi network, iPhone users can browse the Internet and send email. The "Facetime" feature also allows iPhone 4 users to video chat with other iPhone users when connected to a Wi-Fi access point, giving the iPhone multiple networking options out of the box.
Through the use of the iTunes App Store, iPhone users can download and use a multitude of apps that allow them to network with people worldwide. Apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare keep iPhone users up to date on the day to day lives of other people in their social network. Through these social networking apps, iPhone users can also find other people that are in the network and sync the information they provide (including email addresses and phone numbers) to their iPhone.
More of a subset of social networking apps, business networking apps help iPhone users coordinate business plans and exchange business information with other iPhone users. Business apps serve a variety of purposes, including facilitating meeting of other people with similar businesses, exchanging business cards and information and setting up business meeting locations and times. With these tools, iPhone users can expand their business network in a digital manner in conjunction with the physical network they do every day.
Apple's Bonjour protocol, which allows multiple devices to "find" each other while on the same network, has given the iPhone a number of networking possibilities. Applications can take advantage of the Bonjour protocol in many ways, including allowing you to host a chat room from your iPhone and allowing other iPhone users to join that chat room. iPhone users can create any type of chat room -- social, business or otherwise -- as a network hub of sorts that gives other iPhone users the opportunity to network with individuals with similar ideas and interests.