Apple's Cook looks to grow its $25 billion enterprise business

During a keynote address in San Francisco yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed the company's recent focus on the enterprise, and suggested that modern businesses can do much more with mobility than simple messaging and browsing.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

Apple CEO Tim Cook says no organization, including his own, "deserves a really high grade" for their efforts in enterprise mobility. "The tactical way people are using mobile in enterprise is too much around doing email, browsing, doing basic things, not reinventing and transforming their business," Cook said during a keynote at BoxWorks, enterprise storage company Box's annual conference in San Francisco yesterday. 

For Apple, enterprise a $25 billion a year business

As he often does, Cook reiterated that Apple is just getting started in the enterprise. Of course, the company already generated $25 billion in revenue from its enterprise business during the 12 months ending in June, according to the chief executive.

"This is not a hobby, this is a real business," Cook said of the enterprise market, which drove roughly 13 percent of Apple's revenue during the same one-year period. However, that number is a "very small amount compared to what the opportunity is," he said.

[Related News Analysis: 3 telltale signs Apple is changing its enterprise tune]

Apple's march into the enterprise has been slow and, at times, adversarial. "For a while when the world was bifurcated between enterprise and consumer, we focused on the consumer," Cook said in a discussion with Box cofounder and CEO Aaron Levie. The company made significant inroads in enterprise when it built business and security features into iOS, according to Cook.

The integration of Apple hardware and software, a hallmark of the company's device strategy for consumers, is starting to have an impact in the business world, but there's still plenty of room for growth, Cook said. "We don't have deep knowledge of all the verticals that the enterprise deals with," he said. "We needed that expertise on the enterprise side, and so we've partnered with people to do that."

Apple welcomes enterprise partners

The partnerships Cook referenced include wide-ranging deals with enterprise mainstays such IBM and Cisco, but Apple's expanding mobility partners program also includes smaller players, such as Box.

[Related News: Box CEO courts enterprise cloud customers]

Apple's pursuits in the enterprise changed its relationships with longtime competitors and other companies in the technology industry. "If you think back in time, Apple and IBM were foes. Apple and Microsoft were foes," Cook says. "Apple and Microsoft still compete today, but frankly Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than we could compete on, and that's what the customer wants."

Cook also says he doesn't believe in holding grudges. "Life is short, we're going to die soon, and you got to have as many friends as you can have … If by working with someone, you can serve someone else better you should do it."

By partnering with other tech companies, Apple will unlock huge opportunities to help people transform their businesses and improve the ways they work, he says. "If you're a CIO … you want to do business with someone who's a part of an ecosystem, not someone that's on an island somewhere. The island days are gone."

This story, "Apple's Cook looks to grow its $25 billion enterprise business" was originally published by CIO.

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