It’s no secret that Apple (AAPL) has been fussing with improving iPad sales, with enterprise customers seen as a likely lily pad (no pun intended). But how to get there appears to be a significant hurdle.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report, the iPad maker has turned to app developers to gussy up the iPad to improve its posture with corporate clients. Apple’s scheme, the report said, is to convince business customers to rethink how mobile, task-specific apps on the iPad can help in a work setting.
While Apple’s iOS 9, sporting features such as multi-tasking, split screens and a multi-use keyboard, could help business users view the iPad as more feature rich and powerful, it may not be enough to enable the vendor to find a more secure footing in the enterprise. But alliances with app developers could be just the ticket.
Apple is said to be working with some 40 companies, including developers of apps for uses such as accounting and sales presentations, to carve out a larger piece of the business pie. The move clearly is an outgrowth of Apple’s year-long enterprise mobility deal with IBM (IBM) that has produced some two dozen industry-specific apps peddled through the IBM MobileFirst portfolio.
In April, Apple outlined the mobile business app program for investors but few details have since emerged, the Journal reported. Participants include some well-known companies, small providers and those that Apple has yet to identify.
At this point, the identified companies include: Appirio, Belly, Bigtincan, Box, Deputy, DocuSign, FreshBooks, Flint, MicroStrategy, MobileIron, Moneris Solutions, Prontoforms, Revel Systems, ServiceMax, ScrollMotion, Showpad, Vend, VMware AirWatch, Workato and Xero.
Apple internally refers to the iPad business app program as the “mobility partner program,” or MPP, the report said, but has urged partners not to discuss it publicly.
These companies “are developing iOS solutions across industries that will empower employees and usher in a new era of productivity,” an Apple spokesman told the Journal.
Apple believes that in the long run, purpose-built application bundles for the iPad can win over business customers such as retailers and accounting services. Apple apparently also has discussed with telecom carriers that sell its mobile devices the idea of selling apps to business customers, the report said.
It’s not only Apple that’s struggling with shrinking tablet shipments, it’s the whole market that’s continuing to recede, according to the latest figures from researcher IDC showing a 7 percent decline from last year in Q2 to 44.7 million units worldwide, including a 4 percent downturn just from last quarter.
Tablet bellwether Apple said shipments of its iconic iPad in FQ3 had fallen to 10.9 million units, an 18 percent unit sales tumble and a 23 percent revenue downturn from the same time last year. When compared to the 12.6 million iPads Apple shipped in FQ2 2015, unit sales fell 13 percent and revenue slipped 16 percent in FQ3.