Apple is working with Box, DocuSign and several other enterprise-focused firms to create apps that attract more enterprises into adopting iPads for business purposes.
Luca Maestri, chief financial officer at Apple, said in an earnings call detailing Apple's second quarter results for 2015 that a huge number of app opportunities have been identified for the iPad as part of the evolution of its partnership between Apple and IBM.
"In addition to IBM, we working closely with more than two dozen other leading business software and solution providers, including Box, DocuSign, Microstrategy, Revel and ServiceMax, to bring a broad range of innovative mobile solutions to more customers on iPad," he said in the call, as transcribed by Seeking Alpha.
Box chief executive Aaron Levie confirmed Apple's plans in an email to Business Insider: "We couldn't be more excited to power the next phase of business transformation with Apple, the company that ignited the post-PC revolution.
"Innovation in IT is driving innovation in business, and nowhere is this more apparent than in enterprise adoption of iPhones and iPads, which are spurring all-new mobile use cases across verticals like healthcare, retail and financial services."
The move would appear to buck Apple's usual approach of developing iOS business and productivity apps in-house, seen with the likes of Pages, Number and Keynote, before allowing third-party equivalents into the App Store.
iPad sales declined by 23 percent to 12.6 million units in the second quarter, and Apple is pursuing a business and enterprise market traditionally dominated by laptops and desktop PCs.
Rather than attack the market alone, Apple is using partnerships with app and software firms that are well established in the enterprise.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook championed the company's partnership with IBM as one of the main drivers of iPads into business.
"The IBM partnership, I think, is in its early stages in terms of bearing fruit here, but everything I see I like on it. I'm a big believer in the ability for iPad to play in a major way in enterprise," he said.
Cook added that getting iPads into the enterprise is part of Apple's vision for the future of its tablet division.
Apple has also gained the attention of Parliament, and 650 MPs will receive an iPad Air 2 after the General Election in a £1m scheme.
Author's view: Sales of iPads may far extend those of rival tablet brands, but the decline in quarterly sales is clearly a concern for Apple.
Targeting the enterprise market may open up sales opportunities, but Apple is entering an area that tends to move more slowly than the consumer space. Many businesses and workers are often content to stick with the hardware and software they are familiar with when it comes to carrying out important tasks.
Partnering with companies already active in the business technology world is a shrewd move. But the company will also face the likes of Microsoft, which is chasing corporate workers with its Surface tablet range that has the advantage of full access to the company's Office productivity software suite which has widely penetrated the business world.
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