Apple‘s ambition to convert to a services company has one major flaw: the lack of enterprise services. For example, one of the fastest-growing segments in enterprise software is collaboration. Given Apple’s present dominance in the workplace mobility market, it’s surprising that it hasn’t made more of an effort to compete with Slack and Microsoft Teams.
When you consider that the corporation already offers parts and pieces of a collaboration system, this omission is even more shocking.
Apple’s ambition and efforts
For more than a decade, Apple‘s iWork program has provided basic collaborative tools like comments and change tracking, as well as real-time editing via iCloud. Granted, these are simply the most basic workplace collaboration features, but it’s still a hint that Apple understands how people operate nowadays. Importantly, the majority of these capabilities are compatible with Microsoft Office.
The nuts and bolts of a prospective collaboration suite are dispersed over a variety of its apps:
- Group FaceTime chat has the potential to challenge Skype and similar conference apps, however it’s now unavailable while Apple resolves newly discovered privacy holes.
- Users of Messages on the Mac have long been able to share presentations and manage their screens remotely, which are useful tools for collaboration and technical support.
- Exchange shared calendars and associated functionalities are already supported in native apps.
- Apple’s now-deprecated server platform included a wiki application that allowed for even more cooperation. Though not quite comparable to Slack or Teams, the technology was a start in the right direction and predated the market for similar alternatives.
- Finally, Apple’s Classroom solution for iPads in education brings many of these capabilities together into a single package.
It’s evident that this incorporation has the capability to develop an enterprise-grade collaboration suite on its own or in conjunction with partners like IBM, Cisco, and SAP. Why not finish the picture if all of the puzzle parts are present?
Apple would have to accept competing platforms
It’s easy to see why this incorporation hasn’t merged its existing products into a wider enterprise offering: Because such services would need to support Windows and, to a lesser extent, Android, doing so would mean opening up its services to non-Apple platforms. With most of its consumer-facing services, Apple has resisted doing so. (This is especially true of the company’s iMessage platform.)
The corporation could potentially find itself in a position where it must compete with important enterprise partners who provide a variety of enterprise services, including collaboration software.
Another possibility is that Apple has shifted the enterprise management of its devices to third-party companies. As I’ve previously stated, This incorporation has relied on third-party companies to build much of its corporate integration in recent years, rather than becoming a one-stop shop for managing its gear in the business and education realms. This incorporation would have to give some level of connectivity with enterprise systems, notably identity management systems like Active Directory, if it were to develop a deeply integrated collaboration suite.
This incorporation has also struggled with social features — who remembers ping? Although enterprise services aren’t actual social media platforms, they frequently resemble them in appearance and functionality. Apple’s previous attempts to create its own social networking choices may deter the company from attempting a similar venture in the business world. After all, being known for one lousy business solution could tarnish the reputation of others, and This incorporation has pushed long and hard to establish itself as a credible corporate and enterprise brand.
It’s also worth mentioning that Apple’s services operations are still primarily geared toward consumers. Apple Music, the iTunes Store, and Apple’s yet-to-be-announced streaming service all generate growing income for the corporation, but they’re not geared towards businesses. The key business-ready service offered by Apple is iCloud. While it offers business-friendly features, it is still lagging behind Microsoft, Google, and other competitors in terms of adoption.
There is still a great deal of money and opportunity available
Despite all of these reasons for avoiding enterprise collaboration, This incorporation may be severing its services nose in order to save face in the enterprise. Collaborative technologies are the future of work for the great majority of professions, according to research after study. And businesses are willing to spend a lot of money on them, especially if they have a consumer-friendly design that would stimulate staff adoption and utilization. Apple’s bread and butter is a user-first design language, and there’s no doubt it could produce something employees want to use rather than something they’re forced to use.
This incorporation might also take baby steps toward a solution by focusing on the small to medium-sized business (SMB) market. This is the group that is most likely to look for simple and accessible solutions and is more open to experimenting with various cloud services.
SMBs provide Apple with additional benefits. Because they often have a simpler corporate architecture (and fewer users), tight integration isn’t as important as it is at larger companies. They’re more likely to be all-Apple stores, allowing Apple to experiment while remaining comfortable with its own platform. Apple may also more readily develop solutions that are in keeping with the company’s existing product lines and the sharing possibilities provided by iCloud.
Apple’s decision to prioritize SMBs could show that the company is still committed to the sector. Its hasty deprecation of macOS Server in 2018 has tainted this slightly.
Apple has yet to say no
Apple hasn’t actively entered this market, but it hasn’t explicitly ruled it out either. In reality, the corporation has stated very little about it as a possible development sector. This incorporation may announce new solutions during WWDC this summer or perhaps this spring, as it has done in the past with IT-related efforts. (Earlier this year, we looked at Apple Business Manager, Apple School Manager/Classroom, and the Device Enrollment Program).
Apple, on the other hand, might not want to wait too long if it has any such plans under wraps. The market for such tools isn’t quite new, but it is rapidly developing. It’s usually easier to gain a company’s trust early on than it is to persuade it to abandon competitors’ software in favor of a new alternative.
Waiting too long might result in an even higher barrier to entry for this incorporation, as businesses adopt competitor collaboration solutions and employees become accustomed to working together in a non-Apple environment.
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