Unlike 2014, this year’s Apple press event on September 9, 2015 came with far less fanfare. Investors bid down the company’s stock that day, pundits ripped into the company as though its innovation team was on sabbatical and the Twittersphere was buzzing with criticism.
I, on the other hand, was excited by the news. It wasn’t because of the new bells and whistles associated with the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus since there weren’t many. What impressed me was the underlying message of what Apple is doing with respect to engraining itself into the business world and conquering the future of computing.
For the past quarter of a century, Microsoft has controlled computing especially in the enterprise. This was a result of its brilliance in creating an operating system (Windows) that was appropriate for its time and easy for non-tech professionals to use. Back in the mid to late 1980s, desktop computing was new and PCs were the rage. People wanted them and Microsoft killed it by not only owning the engine behind the PC but also the software that became the standard in business (Office). Apple always lagged behind in this regard—until now.
What was of significance in this year’s Apple launch event was the introduction of the iPad Pro, which measures 12.9 inches diagonally as compared to the 9.7 inch iPad Air. In addition to an extremely fast processing unit, Apple also launched a new Smart Keyboard and stylus called the Apple Pencil. OK, styluses aren’t new. However, it’s not about the electronic pencil—rather, it’s about the overall positioning and innuendo underlying Apple’s various statements that suggest the company has bigger plans and intends to continue to develop solutions for corporate customers.
If you combine the new iPad with the various partnerships Apple has recently entered into with some of the great technology behemoths, Apple’s business strategy becomes even clearer.
Most recently, Apple and Cisco announced a partnership to build and enhance enterprise solutions that will work well on iOS devices. As their joint press release said, “Cisco networks and iOS devices will be optimized so that they work together more efficiently and reliably with the goal of providing users with even greater performance.”
In December of last year, Apple and IBM similarly announced a partnership to develop mobile applications for business.
So what does this mean? While not articulated in black and white, Apple is working aggressively to achieve in the 21st Century what Microsoft accomplished in the late 20th Century. And they are succeeding especially if you believe, as I do, that the future of computing is the mobile device. Indeed, as I have prognosticated in my blogrecently, I believe that the operating systems contained in laptops and PCs will become obsolete in the coming years.
Putting aside the Apple partnerships as well as the new iPad Pro and fun accoutrements, the numbers speak for themselves. According to a recent report by Yankee Group’s 451 Research entitled Enterprise Messaging Extends Beyond Collaboration and Into Workflow Mobilization, the number of PC-only workers is trending towards 0% and the number of workers in the U.S. that are mobile users is approaching 100%. Moreover, mobile penetration in the U.S. is expected to reach 89% by the end of 2015.
Now you understand why Apple is doing what it is doing, right?
Let’s take my view on the future of computing one step further and apply it to the average Joe employee. Assuming I am correct and that PCs and laptops will disappear, what happens next? We will take our mobile device with its unique operating system (likely iOS or Android) and place it into some sort of docking station. This will authenticate us, allow us to get through our company’s firewall and provide us with all of the tools, resources and services that we currently receive from the black box under our desk (which will no longer exist). When we leave work, we will take our mobile device home with us.
This represents the epitome of business mobility. But don’t get me wrong—desktop computing isn’t going away. The two screens on my desk will continue to exist. Rather, it’s the engine that enables them to work—the operating system—that will change.
One more point that will hopefully leave you convinced of Apple’s new purpose in life. When Apple announced the iPad Pro on September 9, guess who was invited to participate? You got it, Microsoft. They were invited to demonstrate Outlook on the iPad Pro. Moreover, straight from its blog, Microsoft said, “Today Apple announced the iPad Pro, iOS 9 and WatchOS 2. We’ve developed a number of new features for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and Translator to take advantage of these enhancements.” Who could ever imagine in the late 1990s that Apple and Microsoft would share the same stage? Well, it has happened.
Whether you were impressed with Apple’s latest announcement or not, you can’t help but agree that in a very short period of time, Apple has done an awesome job in establishing its products and operating system as the standard for the future of computing. With so much hype leading up to each year’s Apple news event, it’s understandable that the forest may have been lost in the trees. But if you take a step back, you will realize that an amazing phenomenon is happening right before our eyes. Apple is subtly taking over the enterprise leaving Microsoft behind in the dust.
Guest contributor Jeff Corbin is Founder of the theEMPLOYEEapp. As a public and investor relations consultant for the past 15 years, Jeff Corbin is pioneering the use of technology in the communications industry as the founder of theEMPLOYEEapp, a business-to-business/enterprise native app platform for internal communications. Jeff also serves as the Chairman of KCSA Strategic Communications, a New York-based consulting firm that represents hundreds of organizations, both public and private.