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Much has been made about the success of the iPhone and more recently the iPad in the enterprise, taking share from segment stalwarts such as RIM. However, these devices found their way into the enterprise – at least initially – through individual consumers/employees. It now appears that Apple – albeit silently – is developing an enterprise sales and business development engine targeting a variety of industries with their mobile solutions.
A quick review of Apple’s website will reveal a dedicated “iPad/iPhone in Business” segment with professionally produced customer vignettes across a variety of industries and workflows not typically synonymous with Apple. Consider, for example, the Redlands Police Department’s use of Apples mobile devices for a variety of in-field records and evidence management applications, Crescent Construction Services use of the iPad and iPhone for inspection applications, or GE’s use of these devices for a variety of industry-specific monitoring applications to business intelligence dashboards. Not on Apple’s website, however, recently reported on, has been the iPad’s use in cockpits as an electronic flight bag from the DIY solution being deployed by Marine Corps aviators in Afghanistan to Alaska Airlines recently announcing it would be issuing iPads to its pilots.
While some of these deployments extend the practical use of these devices that is not the point here. The point is that Apple very much sees the potential for the iPad and the iPhone to transform workflows in enterprise settings. Now Apple is not today – nor will perhaps ever become – a true enterprise player in the sense of entertaining volume discounts and offering unique customization options at the right volume. However, Apple has recently hired a several key RIM sales execs and, for example, signed a deal with Unisys to provide maintenance and other professional services to Apple customers.
Beyond enterprise, it is interesting to follow what Apple may or may not be doing with respect to the SMB market. Apple clearly is enjoying the success of its retail strategy – which may dovetail nicely into the SMB market. In addition, its recent cloud initiatives and the provisioning capabilities they enable may be well suited for resource and expertise constrained small and medium sized businesses.
Nevertheless, while Apple seems intent on riding the halo effect of the iPad and iPhone in the enterprise, other decisions, such as end of lifing its server line earlier this year, suggest that Apple continues to have a non traditionalist view of what an enterprise strategy means.