Apple's Q4: 7 business technology takeaways

Apple's iOS will be getting more enterprise features, iPad Pro could be a laptop replacement and IBM is saving $270 on every Mac it deploys over Windows.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple's fourth quarter results highlighted the company's momentum among consumers and enterprises and long-tail upgrade cycle for the iPhone, which accounts for 62.5 percent of the company's revenue.

Here's a look at the business technology takeaways from Apple's earnings call.

  1. Apple's iOS is likely to launch more enterprise features and may step up the pace. "From a product point of view, we've actually been continuing to change and improve iOS for some time. With every release there are more enterprise features. I will describe it as a continuation of that cadence, perhaps with a little more intensity," said Cook. Also see: Android to iPhone switchers will help smash 74 million sales record | Apple sold 48 million iPhones in Q4
  2. The iPad Pro begins shipping in November and the device is aimed mostly at businesses with productivity, design, medical and engineering a key focus. For Apple, the iPad Pro may be able to boost sales. The iPad accounted for 8.3 percent of sales at Apple in the fourth quarter and units of 9.88 million were lower than most analysts expected. Also see: iPad sales tumble to four-year low while the Mac sees best quarter ever
  3. Apple's ResearchKit is gaining traction. Cook said that there are more than 1,600 HealthKit enabled tools. HomeKit has more than 50 brands on board and 50 automobile models have CarPlay. The takeaway is that Apple is going to be an Internet of things play.
  4. Enterprise revenue was about $25 million for Apple in the last 12 months. Cook said that partnerships with Cisco and IBM are building out the iOS ecosystem. Cook indicated that Apple's enterprise efforts will be led by channel partners. He said IBM and Cisco have large enterprise sales teams. "I do not envision Apple having a large enterprise sales force. We will continue adding some people more on the engineering side, but I don't envision having a large direct sales force," said Cook.
  5. Apple sold 5.7 million Macs and the enterprise is giving the company a bump. IBM's Mac program is getting a good amount of play and was outlined at a recent JAMF Software conference. Most of the savings revolves around lower support costs. Apple CFO Luca Maestri said 30,000 Macs are deployed at IBM and Big Blue "is saving $270 compared to a traditional PC thanks to much lower support cost and better residual value." He added that IBM's Mac experience is a proof point that Apple can "create value in the enterprise world." Also see: Tech Pro Research: OS X 10.11 fine-tunes performance, but few surprises | Only 5 percent of IBM's Mac and iOS users call support, compared to 40 percent of Windows users
  6. IBM will have to stretch to hit 100 iOS apps by the end of 2015. Apple said IBM had 55 apps in its MobileFirst for iOS catalog with project signings surging. IBM and Apple were targeting 100 apps by the end of the year.
  7. Apple has a whopping $205.7 billion in cash and marketable securities with 91 percent of that war chest outside of the U.S. Also see: Apple's apostles: No. 1 best liked brand, No. 3 least liked, says BCG

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