The world and his dog are eagerly awaiting the unveiling of Apple’s next iPhone, but the company has already kicked off September with a bang by announcing a second major enterprise partnership, this time with Cisco.
The deal, following the Apple-IBM partnership, was announced during Cisco’s Global Sales Experience conference in Las Vegas, and Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise appearance to mark the occasion.
“Together with Cisco, we believe we can give businesses the tools to maximise the potential of iOS and help employees become even more productive using the devices they already love,” Cook said.
The announcement was light on specifics, but contained several statements that indicate the focus the partnership will take:
- Cisco networks and iOS devices will be optimised so that they work together more efficiently and reliably
- Apple and Cisco are working together to make the iPhone an even better business collaboration tool in Cisco voice and video environments, with the goal of providing employees with a seamless experience between iPhone and desk phone
- With Apple's support, Cisco will deliver experiences specially optimised for iOS across mobile, cloud and premises-based collaboration tools such as Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx.
Apple is clearly trying to make iOS, particularly on iPhones, a system IT teams can confidently deploy in an enterprise environment by making it 'play nicely' with existing enterprise kit.
Gartner analyst Bern Elliot told V3 that partnering with Cisco is a great way for Apple to do this.
“The iPhone is very successful product and used by employees, so it has tremendous enterprise potential. But [Apple] is not known as an enterprise-oriented vendor,” he said.
“So there are a number of ways that working together with Cisco can improve the iPhone user experience in a Cisco network environment.”
Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research, agreed that this is another notable step by Apple to ensure that the iOS platform becomes more widely accepted in the business environment.
“Apple is making a serious commitment to ensuring the iOS operating system is something that’s going to be prevalent in the enterprise for quite some time to come,” he said in a video note on the deal.
Wang added that Apple is likely to make other deals to continue to grow its enterprise appeal.
"Apple knows what it does best; it’s definitely not going into the enterprise space directly but partnering with really effective partners such as Cisco and IBM. I’m sure we will see some more of these relationships,” he said.
So the benefits for Apple seem clear, but what's in it for Cisco? Elliot pointed out that current market research suggests that around 20 percent of workers already use their own iPhone for businesses purposes and this is only going to grow.
Cisco recognises this trend and realises that, if it can be the vendor to offer network kit and conferencing tools optimised for these devices, it may well generate more business as a result.
“It allows Cisco to offer a better service that is meeting the demands of users for mobile support, so it’s a win for it too,” added Elliot.
This overlap of benefits for both companies was nicely summed up in a tweet by Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at tech analysis firm Moor Insights & Strategy.
Cisco-Apple: Tightly integrate Spark,WebEx into iOS. Remove need for IP-based desk phones.Via intelligent WAN,LAN,WLAN, prioritize iOS devs.— Patrick Moorhead (@PatrickMoorhead) August 31, 2015
It'll probably be a few months before the alliance starts bearing fruit but, if the IBM deal is anything to go by, there will be no shortage of activity behind the scenes even as the new iPhones dominate the headlines.
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