Apple is looking for more growth in order to move its enormous top lines and bottomlines and revive its flagging stock price. This is not news, but a huge opportunity is to sell into the enterprise, where Apple is finally popular enough and big enough that its products are finally a live opportunity.
Historically, Apple has been famously bad at selling into the enterprise. Centralised corporate buyers do not value the design premium that Apple puts on its products. And it was one of the few things that Steve Jobs was never good at.
But now, as is well known, the consumerisation of the enterprise means that Apple is invading the enterprise at a faster clip than anyone anticipated. And Apple CEO Tim Cook is much more bottomline-focused and much more able to use corporate shibboleths, than Steve Jobs ever was. The enterprise is simply a fantastic opportunity for Apple.
So, what can Apple do to improve its mobile enterprise strategy?
Well, actually, it is already pulling many of the right moves.
The first piece of the puzzle has been Apple’s deal with IBM. It’s a deal that makes perfect sense. Apple doesn’t compete with IBM anymore. IBM has one of the most successful enterprise sales channels. IBM can sell Apple devices to enterprise consumers, and then sell the integration of these devices with its productivity software, and then services to help companies integrate these devices into its IT workflow.
Apple can do similar deals with other companies: Salesforce, Oracle.
It can also do more to partner with companies doing the next generation of enterprise software, like Box. To some extent, it is already doing this, because these companies are developers in its platforms, and Apple is careful to help developers. But Apple should make sure, and more importantly, heavily market the fact that it is working hard to make sure that new enterprise apps work best on iOS devices – and that Fortune 500 CIOs know it. Ride the wave.
The other major step is also taken with iOS 8, with increased security and interoperability. Apps are already sandboxed from each other and yet can talk to each other. Apple should have a ‘sandbox’ version of iOS 8 that allows someone to use their corporate apps with one identity and their personal apps with another.
The final move is one that Apple will be reluctant to make but that it probably should: volume discounts. Apple has such economies of scale, manufacturing expertise and branding power that it makes enormous margins on all its products. Everyone knows it – including corporate buyers.
Apple has managed to keep a premium image, but it is no longer really a premium-price manufacturer. And increasing volume is in its interests in order to increase its manufacturing base. Apple is understandably very reluctant to do this, for many reasons. But there is a large opportunity that beckons in the enterprise.