Apple CEO Tim Cook made a rare public appearance this week, with an enterprise-focused interview with Box CEO Aaron Levie at his company's BoxWorks 2015 conference.
Unlike many tech execs, when Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, he only rarely appeared as a speaker at tech conferences (usually All Things D, with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher).
Since Tim Cook has taken over, he's been a little more available, showing up at events like the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference and, this week, at Box's BoxWorks 2015.
"We've always been about making tools that allow people to do things they couldn't do without them," said Cook, answering a question about why he was appearing at an enterprise-focused conference. He went on to note that the world has changed over the past decade. There aren't nearly as many "consumer" and "enterprise" products—instead, corporate and BYOD buyers just look for the best tool for the job.
"Now, if you want a smartphone, you don't say 'I want an enterprise smartphone.' If you wanted to buy a car for your company, you wouldn't say 'let me go buy an enterprise car, or an enterprise pen to write with,'" said Cook. "We started many years ago, we kept it quiet for a while, building enterprise features into our software. We realized that people wanted to use our products everywhere in their lives."
Apple's ultra-controlled marketing and PR message makes any appearance by a company executive major news, and any comment or statement will likely be closely examined.
Cook noted that development of the OS X and iOS operating systems have been inspired by each other, and Apple's Continuity features help users transition between the different devices. Yet, the operating systems achieve different goals (one with touch, the other with more traditional keyboard and mouse inputs), and Apple has "no intention to blend them" together.
Asked about Apple's new partnerships with Cisco and IBM, along with Apple's on-stage demonstration of Microsoft Office, it's clear that Apple is focused on delivering better solutions for customers, regardless of where they come from. "Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than we can compete on," said Cook. It's a similar line to what we heard when Apple and IBM partnered up.
When asked why Apple doesn't just "throw down the mic" by Levie, with nearly $200 billion in revenue, Cook said Apple "haven't started yet," and there's still potential in enterprise, the Apple Watch, television, and more—a car was not mentioned, but the rumors are certainly there.
More than anything, it appears that Apple and Cook are very serious about growing the enterprise business and delivering products that make businesses and employees more productive.
"The bottom line is," said Cook, "we want to make tools to help people change the world, and that means being in enterprise as well, and we're very excited about it."
What did you think about Cook's comments on the enterprise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.