Apple replacing IBM as number 1 choice for hardware in companies

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Apple’s iPhones and iPads have become the favored mobile devices for corporations, as industries from insurers to airlines are planning to drop bulky PCs and give their employees the ability to do their jobs from anywhere using smartphones or tablets.

For Apple, which is struggling to reverse declining sales of its iPhones and Macs and has seen overall revenues drop for two quarters in a row, sales of high-end iPads to business customers in particular have been strong. Nearly half of all iPads are now bought by corporations and governments, according to the research firm Forrester.
It is a long way from the days when Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and longtime chief executive, derided corporate technology buyers as “orifices” and preferred to focus on building great products that would sell themselves.

Companies are turning to Apple’s products for their tight-knit hardware and software, advanced security features and intuitive interfaces. Aiding Apple’s corporate sales has been a concern that phones and tablets running Google’s Android software, which are generally cheaper and popular with consumers, have lagged in the security technology and the standardization that companies want.

For British Airways, which has built more than 40 custom iPad apps for its workforce, switching to tablets has eliminated reams of paper used for flight plans, passenger manifests and maintenance records. Another app allows anyone at the airline to grab an iPad and quickly rebook passengers when a flight is canceled or weather wreaks havoc on schedules.
“We’re dedicated to building products that make people’s lives better, often in ways that we couldn’t have even imagined, enabling them to do things that they have never done before,” Susan Prescott, vice president of worldwide product marketing, markets and applications, said in a statement. “Our goal with business customers is the same — to enable them to do something great with mobile and truly modernize and transform their business.”

Apple’s increased attention to business customers has not come without internal angst.

IBM, Apple’s arch rival in the early personal computer business, is now one of the company’s biggest boosters. Under a two-year-old partnership, IBM, which has transformed itself into a technology services powerhouse, has developed more than 100 business-oriented apps for Apple’s iOS operating system that it has sold to over 2,000 enterprises. The effort brought in more than half a billion dollars in revenue to Big Blue last year.

Mahmoud Naghshineh, IBM’s general manager for the Apple partnership, says Apple’s devices appeal to companies that need to manage complex processes. IBM’s strategy is to develop apps for specific industries, then customize them for each customer.

Apple has also struck a deal with Cisco Systems, a maker of gear that manages corporate computer networks, to develop software that gives priority to mobile devices or apps. That software is in testing and will be unveiled next month when Apple releases a big upgrade to its mobile operating system.

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