Apple puts on its grey suit: Firm, 40, keen to meet corporate types

Could use all the dev time it hasn't been using on iPhones, amirite?

Apple and consulting firm Deloitte are teaming up to help organisations with their business transformation efforts through the use of Apple devices.

The move is just the latest sign that Cupertino is feeling the need to get more serious about the business market than in the past. We wonder why...

Apple’s latest foray into the corporate arena sees Deloitte creating what it claims as a first-of-its-kind Apple practice to advise customers. This will be staffed with over 5,000 strategic advisors focused on helping businesses transform the way their entire operation works.

The centrepiece of this effort is a new service offering called EnterpriseNext, which focuses on the fruity device maker’s iOS ecosystem of hardware, software and services and how these can be applied in the workplace.

Among the services EnterpriseNext reportedly offers is a team of iOS architects, designers and engineers able to build native apps to integrate with existing enterprise systems such as ERP, CRM, analytics and HR, and Workshops for iOS to “quickly take ideas from prototype to custom-built iOS solutions”.

The move is the latest in a growing trend over the past couple of years for Apple to do deals with outfits that already have an established presence in the enterprise arena, in stark contrast to its traditional disdain for anything corporate.

Cupertino’s affair with big business started with a deal with IBM to sell and support its iPhone and iPad models to Big Blue’s customer base, while IBM also developed a line of MobileFirst enterprise applications to run on them.

Last year, the love-in moved to a deal with Cisco, focused around making Apple’s mobile devices play better with corporate Wi-Fi networking kit, among other things.

This year, the deal was with SAP in a partnership to create native iOS apps for the enterprise firm's HANA analytics platform.

This increased focus on corporate partnerships could be a symptom of Apple’s traditional consumer market becoming saturated, and the firm seeking territory where it can still grow demand for its iDevices.

Some evidence for this can be drawn from Cupertino’s last earnings presentation, where both Tim Cook and chief financial officer Luca Maestri emphasised progress in the business arena.

“We're making great progress with our enterprise initiatives and we see strong growth opportunities ahead of us,” Maestri said, going on to mention a deal with Russia's largest bank Sberbank that will see an additional 22,000 iPads deployed in mobility solutions across the organisation.

However, this is a tougher sell than flogging updated phones and fondleslabs to Apple’s adoring fanbase of loyal consumers, as witnessed by the fact that Microsoft’s Surface Pro has so far comfortably outsold Apple’s professional-oriented iPad Pro.

The Surface is an “easier sell” to businesses because of compatibility with the existing corporate infrastructure, as The Register pointed out following disclosure of the first quarter sales figures for both devices earlier this year.

Hence the focus on doing deals with companies that are already well entrenched in the corporate market and trusted to advise and support enterprise customers with their IT strategy. Expect to see more deals like this in future. ®

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