Exclusive: Apple's enterprise assault gets into higher gear
By Christina Farr and Bill Rigby
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) is embarking on its most aggressive expansion yet onto corporate turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote) and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.
Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth - highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters - by expanding its footprint in the workplace.
Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM (IBM.N: Quote) to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard (HPQ.N: Quote), Dell Inc[DI.UL] , Oracle (ORCL.N: Quote) and SAP (SAPG.DE: Quote) are starting to take shape.
Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard's and Dell's dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP's command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft (MSFT.O: Quote), Samsung's or Google's (GOOGL.O: Quote) own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.
Apps developers and other sources familiar with Apple’s plans who could not speak publicly provided additional details on how the iPhone maker is working behind the scenes.
The iPhone maker has worked closely with a group of startups, including ServiceMax and PlanGrid, that already specialize in selling apps to corporate America. The two people familiar with the plans, but who could not speak publicly about them, say Apple is already in talks with other mobile enterprise developers to bring them into a more formal partnership.
PlanGrid is a mobile app for construction workers to share and view blueprints. ServiceMax is a mobile app that makes it easy for companies to manage fleets of field service technicians by ensuring they have access to the right information.
Apple has been sending dedicated sales teams to talk to chief information officers. At least one financial services corporation, Citigroup, has been in talks to sign on, one of the two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Continued...