When Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) introduced the new iPhones last month, it also gave a way a little extra love to new iOS 7 devices by including iWorks with the devices. This wasn't just a kind gesture to keep users happy, but rather a strategic move to pique enterprise interest.
An iWorkhorse in the making
Apple's productivity apps have the basic functionality covered. Pages is for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets and Keynote for presentations -- the three tech hallmarks of simple business productivity. Giving those apps away was one more step in Apple's path to enterprise dominance, but it's no secret that the future of mobile enterprise will need much more.
With Apple updating its iPad line later today, we may see some upgrades that would push the company's tablet lineup further into the business realm. A fingerprint sensor is rumored for the next iteration of the iPad, as is a 64-bit processor. The sensor would obviously add an extra measure of security, and for many businesses it would be a huge step forward in advancing their current password security measures.
The much-debated 64-bit processor could ensure Apple stays on top of future mobile developments. Chris Whitmore, an analyst at at Deutsche Bank, wrote in an investor note recently that a 64-bit processor "'future proofs' App development and protects investment for the migration to 64bit computing over time. In short, enabling 64bit allows enterprises to build custom apps for iPads with greatly reduced obsolescence risk."
Other additions like increased battery life, greater internal storage, more LTE bands, an enhanced keyword with trackpad, and easier device management for IT departments would all make the device more usable for larger businesses.
Although we may see some of these upgrades today, it's more likely Apple will roll out enterprise-focused updates slowly with future versions of the device.
Moving toward mobile
Recent data put out by Forrester Research show that 18% of tablet purchases will be made by enterprises by 2017. Apple definitely wants to make sure it continues to be a leader in this space, but will the enterprise market really change things for Apple?
In short, it already has. Google chairman Eric Schmidt said recently that tablets have changed the enterprise space in ways that he never imagined. At the Gartner Symposium last month, he told the audience he expected workers to use smartphones and computers, but didn't see something in between taking over the market until it started happening. "I figured employees would be using PCs and a phone. But it was the tablet revolution. It looks to us like the majority of enterprise computing is being done on mobile devices, in particular on tablets. That broke the old model." Apple was a strategic part in breaking that model.
A report release from GOOD Technology this month shows that Apple's iOS made up 90% of enterprise tablet activations in the September quarter.
With Apple updating its iPads today, investors won't have to wait long to see if the company integrates more features that can be utilized by businesses. The one thing investors need to continue looking for is how Apple adjusts the iPad hardware and software to make it an eventual replacement for many business PCs. With the consumer market trending toward mobile, the enterprise market isn't far behind -- and Apple is trying to stay one step ahead of both.
Is Apple shifting strategies?
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