When you think of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), you think of the iPhone and iOS. You think of the legions of adoring fans who line up in interminable queues every year hoping to get their hands on the latest Apple product. There is no doubt that Apple is a consumer darling; It has won over people from across the globe and stands at the very apex of the consumer hardware and software market. However, for all its success with consumer devices and services, Apple has never really managed to meaningfully penetrate a somewhat less glamorous section of the market – big businesses. That is now gradually changing, and reports have now emerged of a partnership with enterprise service company Accenture that is part of Apple’s broader effort to conquer yet another market.
Let us have a closer look at the newfound partnership, and its implications for all the parties involved, as well as the industry as a whole.
Targeting Enterprise: A New Direction For Apple?
Ever since the dawn of the smartphone era, Apple has been a consumer focused company. Of course, this was in large part due to top the influence of their visionary founder, Steve Jobs. In many ways, Jobs was a man of the people; Focused on creating a fantastic consumer experience for the general masses. However, there’s a distinct change in direction over the past few years, starting with Apple’s partnership with IBM in 2014. As we outlined at the time, IBM was tasked with developing a fleet of business apps for iOS, with a focus on Retail, Healthcare, Transportation and other emerging industries.
Apple has done a lot more since then. In 2015, they partnered with Cisco to create a fast line for business critical iOS apps on Cisco based enterprise networks. Under this partnership, the iPhone was integrated with Cisco’s conference hardware and software as well. Apple also struck deals with German software company SAP and New York based Deloitte to make further inroads into enterprise markets.
Now, news of Apple’s partnership with Accenture only serves to emphasize Apple’s commitment to conquering big business as well.
What Does The Deal Entail?
According to Apple’s official press release, “Apple and Accenture are partnering to help businesses transform how their people engage with customers through innovative business solutions for iOS“. Under the partnership, Accenture will be providing a variety of services for Apple:-
- Develop a variety of tools and services to allow easy transfer of legacy applications and data to modern iOS apps.
- Services designed to help iOS devices like iPhone and iPad to connect with back-end systems
- Develop tools and templates to scrub data from IoT platforms, and leverage it appropriately.
- The deal also opens the door for further collaborations with Accenture on their vast portfolio of business services and solutions.
What Is Apple’s Game Plan?
Essentially, what Apple is hoping to achieve here is to expand their enterprise offerings on the iOS platform, as well as gain experience by partnering with experts in the industry. In the long run, Apple hopes to transform the iPhone and iPad into the devices of choice for industry professionals. Clearly, there is precedence for this; During its hay days, Blackberry smartphones were extremely popular among business professionals owing to their vast array of enterprise focused features on offer. With Blackberry’s decline, there is a tangible void in the market which Apple is hoping to fill. In order to do so, Apple is rapidly establishing the infrastructure and expertise required to transform iOS into a competent enterprise platform with several key strategic partnerships.
Of course, this time the stakes are even higher. During Blackberry’s prime, mobile computing technology just wasn’t sufficiently powerful to envision moving the primary workflow from desktop platforms to mobile. However, those technological barriers no longer exist today. Therefore, it feasible to imagine a scenario where enterprise workflows are almost wholly conducted on the iOS platform. The basic framework to support this possibility is already there:-
- All iOS devices are encrypted, which is a distinct security advantage over the competition.
- Operating system fragmentation is a much smaller issue on iOS devices compared to alternatives like Android and Windows. This allows for better interoperability and fewer compatibility issues. It also allows for better security. For example, recently the WannaCry ransomware targeted Windows PCs running older versions of the popular enterprise operating system.
- Uniformity is a huge plus for iOS when it comes to enterprise adoption. All iOS devices use the same backup system and have the exact same software makeup. This is not the case with Android, which often comes with custom OEM skins and software.
Who Will It Affect?
A deal of this magnitude is bound to have significant consequences for the industry as well. Apple’s deal with IBM in 2014 was a final death blow for Blackberry and Windows Phone. This time around Apple is gunning for Google Android and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). As in the consumer market space, Android remains a firm competitor in the enterprise space as well. Android’s flexibility and low cost make it an attractive option for some businesses. Apple is trying to combat this with an expanded feature set, better integration and a focus on security.
Windows is currently the king of enterprise and has been for decades. With these strategic partnerships, Apple is attempting to knock Microsoft off their throne. We will have to wait and see if they actually manage to do so.