Apple, SAP forge enterprise app pact for iPhone, iPad

SAP will provide an SDK that will allow developers and customers to create native enterprise apps on Apple devices.

Apple has stepped up its enterprise technology focus with a partnership with IBM for enterprise apps and now has forged a similar arrangement with SAP.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook sees the enterprise as a growth play. SAP CEO Bill McDermott sees iOS as a way to make its installed base more mobile friendly.

SAP, Apple

SAP and Apple laid out plans to create native enterprise apps for the iPhone and iPad using the software giant's SAP HANA platform.

In addition, SAP said that it will deliver an iOS software development kit and training academy. The aim is to enable companies to create iOS business apps.

The news comes as worries about Apple proliferate. Apple's iPhone sales are declining following the iPhone 6 upgrade cycle and the smartphone industry has matured. One way out of that growth pickle for Apple is to better target the business-to-business market, which it has ignored for much of its history.

However, CEO Tim Cook has been working to forge enterprise deals.

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Apple's SAP pact rhymes with the one it has with IBM. Enterprise companies are looking to gain access to the iOS developer base. Partnering with Apple makes also enterprise giants look more trendy to developers.

Cook said in a statement that SAP can combine its HANA platform and developer base to create cutting-edge enterprise apps. SAP CEO Bill McDermott said "in giving people an agile and intuitive business experience, we empower them to know more, care more and do more." Apple is also a large SAP customer.

Now that Apple has IBM and SAP in the enterprise partnership fold it's likely that it may have similar deals down the road. Given that Apple has aimed the iPad Pro at the business market it will need enterprise players to create cutting edge apps that can't be found elsewhere. It wouldn't be that surprising to see Apple pair up with Oracle for native apps in the future too. Cloud vendors such as Salesforce and Workday have been on the iOS bandwagon for a while, but there may be more native integration possibilities with Apple.

Among the key details of the Apple-SAP pact:

  • SAP's HANA Cloud Platform SDK will be available exclusively for iOS.
  • Native apps will combine Apple's native features on its devices with data and processes from SAP.
  • SAP will launch a new Fiori design language for iOS. Fiori is SAP's user interface to unify its various applications and deliver a consumer-like experience.
  • Academies for training as well as the SDK will roll out before the end of 2016.
  • SAP will develop native iOS apps using Apple's Swift programming language. SAP will meld Fiori as well as iOS. These apps will be focused on various industries.

As for the details, SAP wouldn't get more specific about when exactly its SDK would be available. SAP isn't discussing how many apps it'll launch, but the initial ones will be focused on healthcare, retail, asset maintenance and professional services. Apps will be launched for industries through 2016 and into 2017.

SAP plans to demonstrate a handful of iOS apps at its Sapphire conference.

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