A little over a year after teaming up with IBM for enterprise-focused iOS apps, Apple is aligning itself with yet another partner -- Cisco -- with an eye toward making its devices vital for mobile business. Announced yesterday, the "unique collaboration" is aimed at optimizing Cisco networks for use with Apple's devices and apps.
One goal of that collaborative effort will be to integrate the iPhone into Cisco's voice and video offerings so enterprise users can have "a seamless experience" whether they're using mobile phones on the go or desk phones at the office. Cisco also plans to work with Apple to optimize team meeting tools like WebEx, TelePresence and Cisco Spark.
Cisco is a dominant presence in the technology infrastructure of many large businesses, providing such underlying systems as switches, routers, data center services, video and collaboration services and security. It's been undergoing a dramatic transformation in recent years to focus on "solution" and architecture offerings, rather than on sales of individual products and services.
Building Joint Solutions
In coming together in their new partnership, Apple and Cisco "recognize the enormous opportunity we have to bring together the leading mobile platform and the leading provider of secure networks and collaboration to make the mobile work experience what it should be," newly appointed Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said yesterday in a blog post. "What makes this new partnership unique is that our engineering teams are innovating together to build joint solutions that our sales teams and partners will take jointly to our customers."
Noting that Cisco's collaboration and network technologies are used by "95 percent of companies in the Fortune 500," Executive Chairman John Chambers said that teaming up with Apple will "help teams achieve higher levels of productivity and effectiveness."
While Apple's devices enjoy high usage rates in the mobile enterprise, the company has been looking at new ways to maintain its lead in such a fast-changing and competitive market. According to the most recent Mobility Index Report from Good Technology, iOS remains the leading platform for mobile business, but its overall market share has declined over the past two quarters. It now stands at 64 percent, compared to a 32 percent market share for Android.
"Together with Cisco, we believe we can give businesses the tools to maximize the potential of iOS and help employees become even more productive using the devices they already love," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Continuing a 'MobileFirst' Mindset
Cisco and Apple will first focus their partnership efforts on three goals: improving team collaboration on iOS with Cisco's Spark, TelePresence and WebEx tools; bringing unified communications to the iPhone; and developing end-to-end, performance-focused solutions for iOS devices on Cisco networks, according to Robbins.
In addition to making it easier for Cisco-supported businesses to use iPhones and iPads, the partnership is also likely to explore solutions for the Apple Watch, released in April. Apple has promoted the smart watch as a way for users to manage both personal and business tasks, from tracking fitness goals to checking in with airlines on the go. Other companies, including Microsoft and Webfortis, have also started developing enterprise apps for the timepiece.
Such applications mesh well with Cisco's Internet of Everything initiative, which envisions a business future in which "enterprises, consumers, and the physical world will be completely immersed in information technology."
Apple joined with IBM in July 2014 to explore similar opportunities using Big Blue's big data and analytics capabilities. Through that collaboration, dubbed MobileFirst, the companies eventually aim to develop more than 100 business apps for the iPhone and iPad focused on users in specific industries such as healthcare and transportation, among others.