Apple Inc. (AAPL) is one of the most famous and powerful brand names, associated with cult-like consumers worldwide who have waited in long lines for hours to buy its latest devices. What many people don't know is that Apple has quietly become a major supplier to large corporations such as IBM Inc. (IBM), Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) Microsoft Inc. (MSFT) and Lowe’s Companies Inc. (LOWS). These customers have developed new systems to use everything from the iPad to iPhone to perform sophisticated corporate tasks.
According to a report in the New York Times, the company has achieved this by embracing a strategy of partnerships and sales to target a diverse clientele from ranging from airlines to home improvement.
British Airways uses iPads to manage internal as well as customer-facing operations. It has developed 40 custom iPad apps across 17,000 iPads to make it easy for employees to perform tasks ranging from changing of passenger manifests to rebooking passengers. Similarly, Lowe’s Co.s Inc. (LOWS) uses five iPad apps to perform tasks such as providing customers with a 360-degree view of products to streamlining checkout operations.
In May of this year, Apple inked a partnership agreement with SAP SE (SAP) to “fast-track” iOS projects for SAP environments. This could translate into substantial earnings for Apple because SAP is the world’s leader in supply chain software, a market that racked up sales worth $9.9 billion in 2014.
Blue Chip Customers
All of this is in addition to the company’s sales and development agreement with IBM Inc. (IBM), a partnership that has already yielded 100 applications, and its deal with Cisco Inc. (CSCO) to make it easier to use Apple’s devices within corporate networks. The agreement is meant to establish a “fast lane” for Apple’s iPads and iPhones within a business network, enabling easy video and data transfer.
A majority of the company’s enterprise apps are developed on iPads. The device, which was first introduced in 2010, has suffered from flagging sales. The enterprise push has helped revive sales of the device for Apple. Even Microsoft Inc. (MSFT), Apple’s competitor in the enterprise space, has jumped onto the iPad bandwagon and released updated versions of its popular productivity software as apps for the device.
During an earnings call last year, Tim Cook said that the enterprise operation was not to be “underestimated,” saying that the business had revenues of $25 billion in 2015.