Say, When Did Apple Become An Enterprise Company?

Arik Hesseldahl, on Wednesday October 19, 2011, 9:45 am EDT

Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t dialed in to an Apple earnings call in more than a year since leaving my old job. But it sure sounded like a new thing to me when Apple CEO Tim Cook rattled off a list of large companies using the iPhone.

Here’s the direct quote taken from the transcript:

“IPhone continues to be adopted as the standard across the enterprise with 93 percent of the Fortune 500 deploying or testing the device, up from 91 percent last quarter and 60 percent of the Global 500 testing or deploying iPhone, up from 57 percent last quarter. a recent example of iPhone’s enterprise success is Lowe’s. Lowe’s is in the process of rolling out over 40,000 iPhones with a custom application to allow their store associates to execute real-time inventory checks, product orders and interactive customers with how-to videos.

Additional examples of companies around the world supporting iPhone on their corporate networks include L’Oreal, Royal Bank of Scotland, SAP, Texas Instruments, Jacobs Engineering Group, Tenet Healthcare, Jaguar Land Rover, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Lincoln National and CSX Corporation. And of course, we’re thrilled to begin shipping iPhone 4S this month.”

And later a similar section devoted to the iPad:

“Every day, we learn about innovative new ways our enterprise customers are using iPad. The airline industry is a great example of the momentum we’re seeing. United Continental Holdings is putting iPads in every cockpit to replace heavy, paper-based flight bags. In Japan, All Nippon Airways is now using iPad in training programs for flight attendants.

Sonic Automotive is using iPad for customer check-in at the service department and also to provide analytics to regional managers. Aflac, Biogen and General Mills have developed internal apps that their field sales teams leverage daily, and technicians of Siemens Energy are bringing iPads along when they do maintenance work at the top of their wind turbines.”

It turns out it’s not a new thing exactly. Cook has recited similar lists on Apple conference calls before. But as recently as 2008 when BusinessWeek published its cover story “The Mac In The Grey Flannel Suit,” (which, full disclosure I worked on) Apple was generally considered an outsider in the enterprise IT business, and Apple products a novelty in the office. In broad brush strokes, Macs tended to show up at media and advertising companies and in the creative and marketing departments of other companies. The iPhone, and later the iPad, changed all that.

Here’s about as good an indication of that trend as ever I’ve seen: Intermedia, a company that operated a hosted Microsoft Exchange service for small and mid-sized businesses, said earlier this month, that among its 41,000 customers, 78 percent of them are using Apple devices to get their mail, contact lists and calendars.

Meanwhile look at all the companies that have developed enterprise applications for iOS:, Netsuite, Citrix come immediately to mind, and Tidemark the business intelligence startup I wrote about yesterday, is iPad-ready from the start, and there are probably hundreds if not thousands of of examples I’m missing.

Apple has cumulatively sold 40 million iPads since its launch last year. Apple doesn’t offer much in the way of a data breakdown of how many of those are sold to businesses, but it almost doesn’t matter because in so many cases, people buy one and just take it to the office. when you hear the phrase “consumerization of IT,” which already feels pretty worn out to me, it refers mostly to people who want to use iOS devices at work, and to a lesser extent, Google’s Android. a recent survey of 750 IT managers found that the iPhone led the pack of personal devices used at work, followed by Android Phones and the iPad.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised, by all this, but when I heard Tim Cook list all those big companies using iThings to get things done it finally dawned on me: Apple is as much an enterprise story as it is a consumer one.