Apple CEO Tim Cook courts the enterprise: ‘This is not a hobby’


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Apple chief executive Tim Cook speaks with Box cofounder and CEO Aaron Levie at BoxWorks 2015 on September 29.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple chief executive Tim Cook stopped by Box’s customer conference to chat about his company’s efforts into the enterprise: “It’s a huge area for us.” In an interview that appeared reminiscent to Cook’s appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbertthe talk covered all areas, including mobility in the workplace and also a few potshots at Android.

In one of many lighthearted moments, Box CEO and cofounder Aaron Levie opened up the talk by displaying an iPad featuring a lit fireplace — it was a fireside chat, after all. But quickly the conversation shifted towards Apple’s role in the enterprise, which is heavily interested in the space since it’s a $ 25 billion annual market for the company.

Most people probably think of Apple as being a consumer company, but Cook says it’s been thinking about the enterprise from the very beginning: “The things that make devices really great for consumers make them great for the enterprise as well. We think that the skills we bring to this area is huge: we build in security from day one, we’re fortunate enough to have just a few models where we can get everyone the latest iOS — we’re not a fragmented system.”

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Cook admitted that Apple wasn’t in the business of trying to be the end all, be all for everyone. There were areas that his company probably wouldn’t dive into, to which Cook remarked: “What we don’t bring is deep knowledge of the different verticals of the enterprise. In order to do great things, we need to talk to other people. Just like we built an ecosystem with great apps, we needed that expertise in the enterprise and we’ve partnered with that.” He was speaking about relationships that Apple has formed with not only Box, but also IBM and Cisco.

Naturally Cook felt that Apple was in a better position to work with the enterprise compared to other operating systems. While not specifically mentioning Android by name, Apple’s CEO said that the enterprise doesn’t want a “fragmented system. You want to deal with someone that works with the major players in the industry.”

Additionally, he shared that one operating system across devices isn’t in Apple’s roadmap: “We don’t believe in having one operating system for the PC and mobile. It subtracts from both and you don’t get the best experience.” However, Cook recognized that people were spending their days moving from device to device, like jumping from an iPhone to an iPad or a Watch so the devices need to be working seamlessly with each other.

Apple seems to be constantly exploring how people blend their lives between the personal and professional side thanks to the power granted through mobile innovation: “People don’t want to carry two phones with them,” says Cook. When people want a smartphone, they don’t choose to have an enterprise smartphone — it’s just one device.

In the end, Apple is all about empowering people to “change the world.”: “We’re motivated by helping people change the world. If you think of all the great things that are happening at companies, we’re happy to play a small part of that.”

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