Apple Lacks Enterprise Flavor; Does It Really Care?

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 09, 2015

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Apple was always known to be a great consumer company, with not much of focus on the enterprise, making it a less enterprise tech vendor unlike its contenders Oracle, Microsoft and even Google. Of course the business community has gained in some way, the products and campaigns have been solely designed for the consumers. The WWDC 2015 reflected exactly that… somewhere it lacks the enterprise flavor.

To say, the enterprise element was completely missing would be wrong. As an analyst notes, Apple’s enterprise focus just might be the enterprise software outlier. True to his saying, the two-hour long session had some big software announcements from iOS 9 to Apple Music and Apple Pay to smart homes and car apps, but with a twist.

Enterprise by default

With its newly released iOS 9 to run on its latest iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch, while supporting multi-tasking mode on the iPad, Apple may give a tough time to Google. The new feature Proactive Assistant, a major upgrade to Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, can now give contextual search results based on your location, search history and time of the day.

However, there was no mention of the earlier announcement made by Apple where the Cupertino said they’re going to partner with a number of companies to bring iOS solutions to market for the enterprise. A Forbes article mentioned that vendors such as Box, DocuSign and ServiceMax have all been shoulder-tapped to join the program that some say was only conceived of because of falling iPad sales. Sadly that part was missing from the WWDC 2015.

Maps, an area where Apple faltered since its launch, is now a key focus, where Apple is planning to position this service against Google Maps. Despite that experts believe it is way behind Google Maps. Apple Pay of course is coming to the UK and more countries in the near future. As usual there was no mention of India and enthusiastic Indian customers need to keep a watch on this space.

Watch OS 2.0 could be an exception where the company announced an update to the recently launched Apple Watch. “Users can go beyond simply reading emails, and can now even reply to them. Improvements  in the iOS 9 — like transit directions in Maps — will be made available for the Apple Watch too.” As wearables are catching on in the enterprise, this one can make some sense to business users, even though it seems like a style statement.

Rooted In History

The fact that Apple mostly ignored the enterprise is rooted in history. The tech giant lost the personal computer competition in 1980s primarily because enterprises opted for rivals’ products. However, the release of iPad catapulted Apple to the top of the enterprise market. The iPad quickly became the gadget of choice among businesses and professionals. Apple quickly understood the huge demand for iPads. Hence, it made a strategic move by offering bulk purchases to businesses and crafting superior tools to deploy enterprise applications.

BlackBerry’s floundering in 2010 also gave Apple an advantage. That year, when the iPhone 4 was released, businesses accounted for 40% of iPhone sales.

Another milestone in 2014 was that Apple and IBM announced a strategic collaboration for creating more than 100 enterprise apps for both the iPad and iPhone that were designed for different industry verticals.

Better security, easier manageability and the presence of iOS make Apple solutions attractive to businesses. Despite all its positives, Apple still has a long way to go to woo the enterprise. According to a ZDNet survey, CIOs cited three barriers to wider deployments of Apple products. These include, high costs, lack of integration with other business software and limited set of management tools.

Does Apple really care? Steve Jobs explained in an interview in 2010 “What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves. They go ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and if enough of them say ‘yes,’ we get to come to work tomorrow. That’s how it works. It’s really simple. With the enterprise market, it’s not so simple. The people that use the products don’t decide for themselves, and the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused…”

While Apple has undergone a shift from where it was some 5-years ago, it has its own set of premonition, and maybe that’s how it plans to be in the game.