Apple is looking to work with hand-picked developers to help them build apps for blue-chip clients like Citigroup and sell iPhones and iPads to corporate customers, according to a report from Reuters.
This is in addition to the broad partnership Apple has with IBM that should see Big Blue developing dozens of customized iOS apps for its corporate clients across a number of verticals.
Apple is looking to establish "more formal partnerships" with enterprise-focused startups, says Reuters, specifically mentioning PlanGrid (an app to help construction workers share and view blueprints) and ServiceMax (a startup that helps field service technicians). The goal, I suspect, is to bring mobile developers and enterprise businesses together to make more customized solutions for big companies who might not want a full-fledged in-house iOS development team when excellent solutions exist from outside developers.
ServiceMax and Apple have co-hosted a number of marketing and sales dinners with CIOs over the past 12 months to pitch Apple's hardware with ServiceMax's software. Some huge companies have thousands of field service techs, meaning any single deal could potentially be worth millions — and if successful, it could help encourage other companies to sign on.
Growing sales of the iPad in the enterprise is a major focus for the company, as sales have been slowing in recent quarters. Furthermore, the average selling price of the iPad has dropped from $600 to less than $450 since mid-2011 because of the introduction of new, cheaper tablets like the iPad mini, plus Apple's habit of selling older iPads for a lower price after the introduction of a new generation.
The Good Technology Mobility Index Report for the third calendar quarter says that the iPad remained the vast majority of tablet activations, claiming 89% of new devices on Good's device management system, though Android slightly increased its share vs. Q2.
This means that nearly any new tablet purchasing growth in the enterprise is sure to benefit Apple directly (and other companies that support the iOS ecosystem, like IBM and the various app developers).
Likely driving the development of Apple's corporate partnerships even further is data from Good that says the use of custom apps in business is up by more than double quarter-over-quarter, and an astounding 731% year-over-year. Custom apps are the most often activated app category on Good's network, with document editing apps close behind.
Is your company most interested in working with companies with Apple partnerships? Let us know in the comments below.
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.