Tim Cook says businesses are behind consumers in harnessing true power of mobility, but his company and its partners are ready to change everything
Apple CEO Tim Cook says businesses are only scratching the surface with mobility, claiming most companies aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to transform how they work.
The company is looking to the enterprise to offset any slowdown in consumer smartphone and tablet sales and the business market is becoming increasingly important.
Speaking at BoxWorks 2015 in San Francisco, Cook said consumers were much further ahead in this transformation and that Apple’s experience in creating personal devices meant it was ideally suited to helping businesses cope with this transformation.
“This doesn’t include BYOD, which is hard to get numbers on, but my strong intuition is it’s significant. But it’s still a very small amount compared to the opportunity. We’re motivated each morning by helping people to change the world. You’d love to be a small part of that.”
“For a while when the world was bifurcated between consumer and enterprise, but now you don’t say ‘I want an enterprise’ smartphone, he said. “You wouldn’t ask for an ’enterprise’ car or an ‘enterprise’ pen to write with.
“The things that make our devices really great for consumers, like the integration of hardware and software, make them great for enterprise too. We think the skills we bring to this area are huge. Security is built in from day one, it’s not bolted on, we’re fortunate enough just to have a few models so we can get everyone on the same version of iOS – we’re not fragmented.”
However Cook accepts Apple can’t serve the enterprise alone and that deals with IBM, Cisco, Box and others were essential. Apple is even working with its old enemy Microsoft.
“We don’t have deep knowledge of the all the verticals enterprise deal with,” he admitted. “It’s always important to admit what you are. We can build an incredible platform, incredible hardware, but we’re not going to know [specific industries]. We can contribute but it will mostly come from working with [others].
“Frankly, Apple and Microsoft can partner on more thing than we compete on. People want to use Office on Mac and want it to work better than it does on Windows.
“Partnering with Microsoft is great for customers, that’s why we do it. I don’t believe in holding grudges. Life is short. If you can work with someone to serve someone else better, you should do it. I think that’s what the enterprise wants us to do.”
Apple’s confidence is based on its belief that businesses aren’t doing enough with the opportunities afforded by mobile and Cook included his own company in that sweeping generalisation. He said the partnerships would help complete this transformation.
“When you look at the penetration of mobile in the enterprise, it’s shocking how low it is. It’s shocking how many people haven’t gone beyond email, browsing and these sorts of things.
“People aren’t going to gain productivity by working extra hours, we’re already working flat out. You have transform your business and today that means embracing mobility in a big way and we’re in the early stages of that in enterprise. Consumer has actually outpaced enterprise in this area, but there’s no reason for that.
“What mobility does, it not only facilitates, but to take advantage of it in a huge way you need to rethink what you’re doing. Companies’ [current] mobility strategy is about doing simple things like email, not reinventing”
Better than Android?
But why can iOS do this over other platforms like Android or do what former industry favourite BlackBerry can’t?
“You want to pick the best product!” Cook joked. “You want something with security built in from the start, you don’t want a fragmented system, you want an ecosystem that’s there, you want someone who deals with the major players in the industry.”
Despite his earlier appreciation of Microsoft, Cook said Apple would not be offering a unified operating system like Windows 10 any time soon, preferring instead to link iOS and Mac OS with features like handoff and cloud collaboration.
“We don’t believe in having one OS for PC and mobile. We think it subtracts from both. We’re very much focused on two. We’ve recognised we’re moving from device to device all day long. You want them all to work seamless together”
This he said, will be particularly true as wearables like Apple Watch enter the fray. But where will Apple look to take mobility next?
“We haven’t started yet,” he said. “Our goal was never to be the biggest, we always wanted to be the best. That strategy has worked for Apple since Steve [Jobs] came back to the company in 1997 and we’re still doing that.”
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