Last month, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM ) sealed a game-changing deal to collectively increase their presence in enterprise mobility. But don't for a second think they're the only tech behemoths doing so.
Earlier this week, tech news site The Information reported that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) has been in talks with Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) for about a year regarding building their own enterprise mobility solutions.
The deals aren't exactly the same. While IBM is developing more than 100 industry-specific native apps for enterprise deployment on Apple's iOS, the possible HP-Google partnership reportedly centers around customizing the Google Now virtual assistant to function as a voice-search tool for various corporate information. In short, employees could use Google Now to verbally ask their Android device for company-specific data, such as financial reports or product inventory information, greatly reducing the effort required for such tasks.
Google might have been HP's second choice ...
Curiously, The Information also stated that HP was already developing its own mobile search product, which it informally dubbed "Enterprise Siri." What's more, HP apparently discussed the idea with Apple earlier this year -- before Apple and IBM effectively tied the knot with their own exclusive agreement.
Though it's unclear which company was HP's top choice, it would be hard to blame it for trying its hand with Apple first. According to Good Technology's latest mobility index report, Apple's iOS represented a full 67% of total enterprise device activations in the last quarter, compared to 32% for Google's Android. Meanwhile, Apple commanded a stunning 88% of total enterprise app activations in the second quarter alone, compared to just 12% for Google.
At the same time, Apple's device and app activations were down from 72% and 92%, respectively, in the first quarter, as Google Android simultaneously notched hefty 5 and 4 percentage-point sequential gains. In addition, while Google still calls enterprise an "emerging" business, last quarter it reported that a full 60% of all Fortune 500 companies now use its paid enterprise products. All things considered, then, it shouldn't be terribly surprising that The Information's sources noted Google hasn't to date shown much interest in the idea of brokering a deal with HP.
... but it might make sense now
Now that Apple and IBM have made it official, however, a partnership between Google and HP could be the best way for both companies to take advantage of the current rise of enterprise mobility.
After all, HP already has deep roots with enterprise clients, which generated a full 45% of its $27.3 billion in total revenue last quarter alone. As a result, HP could be a fantastic partner to help Google's Android accelerate its momentum to take even more enterprise market share from Apple's iOS. What's more, there would be few better places for Google and HP to begin than with the enterprise integration of Google Now, which arguably has a big head start and boasts superior language processing capabilities to those offered by Apple's Siri.
It remains to be seen whether that would give Google and HP a big enough foothold in enterprise computing to stem the progress of the impending app onslaught from Apple and IBM. But if one thing is clear, it's that enterprise customers are no longer a footnote in the mobile market. Rather, they're quickly becoming a promising source of incremental growth as developed consumer markets begin to mature.
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