Apple’s days as a corporate outsider selling premium kit to the cognoscenti are long behind it. Nowadays the company is targeting its iPhones and iPads at enterprises, with the help of one-time arch-enemy IBM.
Apple isn’t the first company that springs to mind when the word ‘enterprise’ comes up. Of course, the company itself is a massive enterprise, regularly posting record quarterly sales figures and boasting an unprecedented market capitalisation of $758 billion at the time of writing. But as a quintessential 1970s Silicon Valley ‘garage startup’, Apple — particularly under co-founder and arch ‘hippie capitalist’ Steve Jobs — always cultivated a renegade/outsider image, seemingly more comfortable selling its designer products to the cognoscenti rather than slugging it out in the mass-market.
Nowhere was this self-image so evident as in the famous Macintosh-introducing 1984 commercial, in which a sportingly-clad female rebel gatecrashes an assembly where an on-screen Big Brother-like figure is addressing serried ranks of grey workers. In his 1983 keynote introducing the ad, Steve Jobs articulated the contrast between outsider Apple and corporate behemoth IBM, saying:
“IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple. Will ‘Big Blue’ dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”
So it’s ironic that, three decades later, Apple’s market cap is nearly 4.5 times that of IBM, and that the two companies last year formed a partnership to develop and deliver business apps for the iOS platform (more on this later). Who’s the Big Brother now?
In its latest quarterly financial results (for fiscal Q2 2015, ending 28 March) Apple reported revenue of $58 billion and net profit of $13.6 billion. The company sold 61.2 million iPhones (down from an all-time record 74.5 million in Q1 2015), 12.6 million iPads and 4.6 million Macs. Here are the unit sales and revenue figures for the last 14 quarters, showing a distinctly iPhone-dominated picture, particularly after the iPhone 6/6 Plus-boosted 2014/15 holiday season:
If the iPhone is the product sales story of recent quarters, then China is the story as far as geography is concerned, the region’s contribution to the Cupertino coffers jumping from 18 percent of revenue in 2014 to 29 percent in Q2 2015:
In a recent (10 February 2015) on-stage conference interview with Gary Cohn, president and COO at Goldman Sachs, Apple CEO Tim Cook had this to say about China:
“We’ve invested in a ton of people there. We’ve invested in stores there, in flagship stores. We’re rolling out more stores. We’ve partnered with top Chinese companies, like China Mobile and China Unicom and China Telecom, and great services companies like Baidu on search and Tencent and Yoku. We’re now at 19 in Greater China. We’re going to be at 40 by mid next year…We’ve brought on 40,000 point of sales at our indirect channel partners. And so, we’ve done things with people that really understood China and had desire of services there. Maybe more than anything, we’ve put our personal energy into it and tried to deeply understand the market and respect it. And it — over time, it began to work. Five years ago, we were at less than $1 billion of revenue. In the last 12 months, we were at $38 billion.”
China, and in due course territories with similar potential such as India, may be the focus of Apple’s geographical ambitions, but as consumer markets saturate in mature territories, the enterprise also looms increasingly large in the company’s plans.
HOW ENTERPRISES SEE APPLE
VMware: The Apple Enterprise Invasion
In June last year, VMware published the results of a survey of 376 IT professionals, entitled The Apple Enterprise Invasion. The study found that two-thirds (66%) of the businesses surveyed were using Macs in the workplace (how many was not revealed), with a 70/30 percent split between official and unofficial (BYOD) support. The main reason given for the presence of Macs in these companies was ‘user preference’:
Only a quarter (25%) of the IT professionals surveyed by VMware considered Macs easier to support than Windows systems, with 36 percent regarding the support effort as about equal. That leaves 39 percent of the opinion that Macs are harder to support than PCs: