ANALYSIS: More Cisco collaboration, not to mention artificial intelligence, shows that Apple still has businesses in mind
While it may not have been immediately obvious, a sizable chunk of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) announcements this week, from Siri support on desktop to iCloud storage updates, will go a long way in improving Apple’s credentials in the enterprise.
Apple, as seen by many analysts, has some catching up to do with its biggest rivals Google and Microsoft in the business world.
While Google thrives on a dominance of its Google Apps suite in businesses, and Microsoft enjoys Windows dominance worldwide, Apple has always been seen as more of a consumer choice for its devices, aside from macOS’ (née OS X) particular popularity in creative industries.
The iPhone maker also has some catching up to do in the field of artificial intelligence. Siri, the company’s primary digital assistant, has remained stagnant for a while, letting Google’s Go-winning AI platform and Microsoft’s deep-learning Cortana take the media spotlight.
But at WWDC, on the same day Google announced artificial intelligence will come to its enterprise customers, Apple made a move to strike into its competitors’ supremacy: adding support for Siri on macOS, just like Cortana on Windows.
“Artificial intelligence and natural voice interfaces will represent an area of huge investment and disruption in the coming years,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president of research at CCS Insight.
“It is essential that Apple is at the forefront and opening up assets such as Siri, messaging and maps is a competitive necessity.”
Blaber explained how Apple’s take on AI privacy varies to that of Microsoft and Google’s, and this, TechWeekEurope thinks, could give it an edge in a privacy-focused business world.
“Apple is taking a very different approach to deep learning and artificial intelligence compared to rivals,” he continued.
“All analysis is done on a user’s device rather than in the cloud in line with Apple’s commitment to respect user privacy. Whether this can scale as the amount of data to be analysed grows remains to be seen but it will be a compelling differentiator to some.”
Patrick Moorhead, president at analyst house Moor Insights & Strategy, agrees.
“Apple made many good points on privacy and have found a unique way to maintain privacy and provide personal and differentiated AI services,” he said.
“I’m a bit blown away how they did this but when you own the hardware, software and the cloud, this opens up a lot of possibilities. I believe Apple has done much more with AI than they talk about. Siri is a complete AI platform and they were first to market with one. Even their phone multitasking and power management uses AI schemas.”
Cisco also made a stealthy appearance at WWDC this week, with Apple bringing news on its partnership with the networking giant.
Cisco and Apple’s marriage started back in August 2015, with the two companies promising optimised networks for better performance on iPhones and iPads, and improved technology for Cisco voice communication on iPhones.
Trollope said that now with iOS 10, Cisco has optimised how iPhones and iPads communicated with a Cisco wireless network.
“When you’re at work and on the go, your iPhone or iPad will simply “know” what’s the best available wireless access point for you—and will select it by default. This makes performance of all your apps, especially real-time apps like voice and video, much more reliable, particularly when you are on the move,” he said.
Moreover, Cisco said it has created a “fast lane” for business critical apps running on iOS 10.
“No longer will you have to ask your coworker to lay off the cat videos while you’re on a Cisco WebEx or Spark Call on your iOS device; your IT department can now effortlessly prioritise the apps most critical to your business, helping you get the job done from your mobile device,” added Trollope
And some of those business critical apps will no doubt come from Apple’s partnership with IBM’s MobileFirst business partnership.
Naturally, to take advantage of the Cisco collaboration, a company has to be all-in on using Cisco, so Apple’s foray into this particular business world still falls short of all-encompassing.
But, as Apple devices like iPhones update to iOS 10 and bring with them new features that will be invaluable in businesses, Apple only stands to gain more of the enterprise market share if it continues down the path of enterprise agreements.