US airline United Airlines has announced plans to equip 23,000 flight attendants
with the iPhone 6 Plus in a major corporate coup for Apple.
United said that the rollout to staff will begin in the second quarter of 2015, and that the handsets will be used to access company email and the firm’s intranet as well as policy documents and procedure manuals.
Interestingly, United also said that the iPhone 6 Plus will be used to handle in-flight retail transactions, suggesting use of the Apple Pay service.
Sam Risoli, United's senior vice president of in-flight services, explained that supplying staff with the handsets will offer enormous benefits.
"The iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers," he said.
The rollout follows United’s deployment of iPads to pilots in 2011 in a move toward paperless aircraft and flight decks. United has now started deploying iPad Air 2s.
The deal represents a major coup for Apple, which is pushing more into the enterprise in an attempt to find new areas of revenue growth.
Apple's partnership with IBM, announced earlier this year, formed a major part of this strategy by looking to entice more businesses to use its hardware and software in corporate environments.
This partnership has borne its first fruit in the form of 10 IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps aimed at firms in the banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecoms and airline sectors, and for governments and public sector bodies.
The use of the iPhone 6 by United is the latest deal in the airline sector for new, cutting-edge tech products. Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines announced recently that pilots will be given Surface Pro 3 devices.
Austrian Airlines has begun deploying 650 Surface Pro 3s to pilots, and expects to have deployed 1,000 units by the end of the year. Lufthansa will deploy 5,000 Surface Pro 3s to pilots by March 2015.
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