While Apple has never tried to hide the fact that consumers are still its top priority, Nick Wingfield of The New York Times writes that businesses have found the company to be easier to work with in recent years, adding features to its devices that make them more business-friendly. Apple’s new chief executive, Tim Cook, is also known to be far more at ease meeting with CIOs than Steve Jobs ever was.
Over the last few years, corporations have started buying a lot more Apple products for their employees. The iPhone and iPad have given Apple an “in” at Fortune 500 companies that they never enjoyed when they were strictly pushing Macs.
Apple executives have recently begun to boast about the number of Fortune 500 companies that are testing or deploying iPhone and iPads. 92 and 93 percent respectively. “You never heard those stats before,” said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. “The reason why is they struggled for decades, and finally they have a story to tell in the enterprise.”
One recent company to try Apple in the workplace is home improvement giant Lowe’s, who purchased around 42,000 iPhones for use on store floors. Employees can check inventory, pull up how-to videos, and help customers estimate costs for their projects. All without searching for a computer as they’ve had to do in the past.
“We’ve shown we can retrieve an electronic page faster than we can retrieve a printed manual,” said Capt. Joe Burns, a United pilot and managing director of technology and flight tests for the airline.
Even as Apple concentrated on consumers, they also ended up adding a number of business-friendly features — like better support for Microsoft Exchange, a common e-mail system inside companies — to a later software update for the iPhone.