Apple, which is already a major player in retail technology with Apple Pay and iPad-based in-store point-of-sale systems, is now quietly preparing to launch an aggressive expansion into other areas of corporate technology, according to Reuters.
The company has hired a dedicated corporate sales force and is partnering with a dozen or so mobile-workforce app developers to augment its existing alliance with IBM for corporate applications, the news agency reported, citing numerous unnamed sources.
Citigroup, which is one of Apple’s partners for Apple Pay, is reportedly already in negotiations with Apple to become a customer.
Under the plan, Apple will use IBM’s applications in an effort to pry corporate office technology spending away from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle and SAP, while working closely with startups to provide specific mobile-centric applications, including ServiceMax for managing fleets of field service technicians, and PlanGrid for letting construction workers share blueprints and other information. Apple is formalizing partnerships with other mobile developers as well.
Many large U.S. businesses already deploy tablets for their workforces, for uses ranging from pharmaceutical sales to mobile accounting. A strong move into corporate settings with specialized software and service offerings would help Apple to offset declining growth in consumer sales of mobile devices.
But Apple has had only limited success with corporate customers in the past. “From Apple’s point of view the enterprise is really messy, oftentimes unreasonable or even stupid in its demands,” said Forrester John Rymer. “They’ve never had a business model to deal with any of that. But they do want the penetration and they do want what market share they can get.”