Apple is accelerating its enterprise push

New evidence is emerging that shows Apple is doubling down on its push into the enterprise software sector.

This past week, at a Goldman Sachs conference, Tim Cook was very clear about the partnership between Apple and IBM when responding to a question from Gary Cohn, the CEO of Goldman Sachs group.

Cohn: How important is IBM partnership? What makes it interesting for two titans?

Cook: IBM has very deep knowledge of a number of verticals, we don’t have that. IBM has field expertise, we don’t have that. Apple has devices people want, programming languages easy to write for. IBM doesn’t have that. We want to change the way people work. So when we thought how do we do this, we realized we didn’t know enough and didn’t have all of these people on the street and didn’t have all of these engineers to write these unique apps. But we knew we needed them at the enterprise level. Presentation, word processors, those are general. But when you start talking about tools for the pilot, the nurse, the banker, you need unique apps.

So we knew we needed to partner with someone. We looked around, and it became clear IBM would be an outstanding partner. The relationship there is good, the teams work well together, and the teams are very complementary. Enterprise has not moved nearly as far as consumer. Kind of like experience for digital kids. Enterprise is like this…you live one way at home and then turn back the clock when you go to work. It doesn’t have to be like that.

So, I admit I was surprised to hear that Apple went looking for a partner to attack the enterprise with, as opposed to IBM approaching Apple.

Other evidence of a full Apple attack on the enterprise?

  1. UBS analyst Steve Milunovich reports — without citing sources — that Apple is going beyond the initial IBM/Apple focus on iOS business apps: “Now we hear that IBM will be adding horizontal apps as well over time, such as supply chain capabilities. IBM has been backing into applications through its SaaS acquisitions and analytics expertise; this could be powerful.”
  2. Apple is hiring enterprise sales reps.
  3. Rumors of a larger format iPad (iPad Pro?), presumably more attractive to enterprise users.
  4. Apple announced on 13 February that iWork for iCloud beta now works on Linux box, Google Chromebook, and — cue the drumroll — Microsoft Windows PC, as well as from Apple hardware. And it’s free. This is a very-late-in-the-day attempt by Apple to counter Office and Office 365 dominance on Windows devices.

So Apple — which just posted the best quarter of any company ever, making $6 billion in profits per month — is going to invest some serious bank to expand dramatically in the enterprise. Perhaps Cook&Co are looking to additional markets to continue their astonishing growth: it can’t be just iPhones. Now it seems that Apple is planning to make electric cars, along with Apple Pay, the coming wearable Watch, Beats streaming music service, and the long-rumored TV initiative. What will they disrupt next?