Tim Cook: Apple’s push into business technology is not a hobby

Apple chief executive Tim Cook says there is room for his company to grow into supplying the business sector

Apple is accelerating its push into business technology as it seeks ways to continue its astonishing growth, according to chief executive Tim Cook.

Businesses accounted for $25bn of Apple’s $200bn sales in the year to the end of June, but Mr Cook said the company was aiming to play a bigger role in the corporate IT industry.

He said: “This is not a hobby. This is a real business.”

In a sign of the determination to serve more corporate customers, he delivered the message at a third-party event, BoxWorks, run by the online collaboration service Box. It was an unusual move for Apple, which as a consumer brand exercises famously tight control over its public face.

Mr Cook said he believed there was large scope for Apple to grow as the smartphone revolution unleashed by the iPhone begins to spark fundamental changes in how businesses operate.

“People aren’t going to gain productivity by working more hours,” he said. “We’re all working flat out. So you have to transform your business.”

“When you look at the penetration of mobile in enterprise, it’s shocking how low it is, and then when you look at what people are doing with it, it’s shocking how many people haven’t gone beyond emails and browsing and these kinds of things,” he said.

“I’m not sure anyone at this point that I’ve seen, including ourselves, deserves a really high grade compared to the opportunity that’s there.”

Under Mr Cook, Apple has latterly been seeking to bury the hatchet with old industry foes to help it crack the enterprise market. Last year it signed a major development and distribution partnership with IBM and at this month’slaunch of the new iPad Pro even invited Microsoft on stage to demonstrate its Office software.

Mr Cook said: “Just as in the consumer area, where we have built an ecosystem that has so many apps… we needed that expertise on the enterprise side, so we partnered with people to do that.”

The iPhone is increasingly emerging as the dominant smartphone for corporate IT departments, as the decline of BlackBerry continues. Manufacturers such as Samsung, which use Google’s popular Android operating system, have meanwhile struggled to gain a foothold in businesses, partly due to the array of versions of the software that are in use.

While Apple has built bridges with IBM and Microsoft, Google has emerged as its main rival in the technology industry.

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