Apple Should Secure Its Place in Businesses

The iPad Dominates Enterprise Tablet Use, But Apple Must Make More Friends in IT Departments

Last spring, for my final-year report at university, I produced a review of Apple. I looked at several internal and external issues affecting Apple, including factors shaping the smartphone and tablet industries. In the concluding chapter I analysed Apple’s strategic options and made a few recommendations. Twelve months on, I’ve revisited one of those recommendations — that Apple should step up its investments to build up its position in the enterprise sector.

Business adoption of Apple’s iPad was one of the biggest surprises in the early days of the tablet market. Nine months after the iPad’s launch, Apple reported that more than 80 of Fortune 100 companies had either deployed or were piloting the device. Companies found a broad set of uses for the tablet, including general management, productivity and sales and field support. A range of powerful third-party and custom business apps created new and appealing ways to use the iPad.

In my review I argued that Apple should dedicate more attention and resources to capitalising on this phenomenon and growing its global market share. Noting its success in the educational market, I thought it feasible that the company could establish a firmer foothold in the enterprise market.

Today, Apple continues to dominate the use of mobile devices in a business context. Good Technology, which makes enterprise mobility software, claims that 88 percent of activations of its software on tablets were on iPads in the first quarter of 2013 (see below).


Good Technology tablet activations, 1Q13
Source: Good Technology

The iPad appears to have established itself in the business world without any particular attention or effort from Apple. This position can be attributed to its success as a consumer product and to the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

When Apple previewed iOS 7, new enterprise-friendly features were briefly mentioned. Apple has made few friends in corporate IT departments thanks to its secretiveness and unwillingness to provide product road maps — something that suppliers like Microsoft and Oracle are eager to offer. This raises the question: has Apple done enough to capitalise on these developments?

Because of the overwhelming adoption of iPhones and iPads by employees, it’s likely that Apple didn’t feel obliged to appeal to IT directors. Aside from emerging competition from Windows 8 and its range of devices with Microsoft Office support, rivals remain relatively feeble. Nokia and BlackBerry have largely disappeared from IT departments’ radars, and Android’s patchy security support means it has yet to gain the full trust of enterprises.

However, relying on consumer demand could mean that Apple’s grip on the enterprise market is largely dependent on fickle consumer and technological trends. The business-orientated improvements in iOS 7 may aim to cast away the doubts of IT directors who have reluctantly integrated iOS devices in their networks. By making friends with IT departments and providing more tools and support, Apple would cement its place in the business world for many years to come.