Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) has been hitting it out of the park with sales of its iPhones, Macs, and now iPads, but the weight of the company’s presence is still heaviest in the consumer market.  Just look at your mall to see which store is packed, or ask your favorite teen or tween what they want for Christmas.  The answers to both are likely to be Apple.      

Meanwhile sales to the enterprise market continue to be dominated by the likes of Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).  But that could be changing.   Will enterprise sales be Apple’s next multi-billion dollar opportunity instead of another new gadget?

Signs of enterprise interest
During Apple’s earnings conference call, executives reported that enterprise CIOs (Chief Information Officers) are increasingly adding iPhone and iPads to their approved device lists, which determine the products a company’s systems and IT staffs will support.  Fortune 100 companies are also piloting or deploying iPhone and iPad products at very high rates -- 85% and 67% respectively.  Also benefiting Apple, more businesses are allowing employees to make their own PC and smartphone choices.

Apple is hiring
Apple isn’t ignoring the enterprise opportunity either, indicating that it is expanding its enterprise sales teams and is working to ensure more enterprise features are built into each new version of its operating system.

A little help from old friends
Apple’s enterprise ambitions are also being helped by a competitor, Microsoft.  The latest version of the company’s Office productivity suite for Macs includes a full featured version of Outlook that does not require additional emulation software to run.  An email, calendar, and contacts application, Outlook is essential to survival in many companies.  During Apple’s earnings conference call, Steve Jobs had a lot to say about competitors, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Research In Motion, but he forgot about Microsoft.  He should say "thank you" to that other Steve, Steve Ballmer.

If Apple is invading your company’s IT department, let us know about it in the comments.  And for more on technology stocks, click here to get The Motley Fool’s free report, The Only Stock You Need To Profit From the NEW Technology Revolution

Fool contributor, April Taylor, owns shares of Apple and Google.   Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.