Apple's screen size barrage with iPhone 6, iPad caters to enterprise

Apple's plans to create larger iPhones and iPads may not be sexy, but there's an opportunity to become as dominant as BlackBerry used to be in the enterprise.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple's upcoming product launches of the iPhone 6 and iPad refresh are likely to include a wave of various screen sizes---larger smartphones and tablets---that on the surface merely mimic Samsung's approach of carpet bombing categories with devices of every dimension.

But that view is a bit superficial. Apple's iPhone 6 event Sept. 9 is likely to see a big upgrade cycle because the company will reach people who gravitated to Android largely over the device size. Simply put, the iPhone 5s is too small for a lot of folks. Samsung's phablet approach has merit and a strong customer base.

More: Apple said to be preparing larger iPad for 2015: Could it drive vital enterprise growth? | IBM, Apple forge enterprise app pact: Watson, meet iPad | Apple announces September 9 event for iPhone 6 reveal | Analyst briefing: Managing the influx of Apple devices into the workplace

For the iPad, Apple is reportedly planning a 12.9-inch iPad. A tablet that size can be mocked by tech insiders, but in corporations an iPad that large with a keyboard could easily be a Surface or 2-in-1 PC threat.

The story lines behind Apple's screen size coverage could revolve around innovation (the company is out of ideas) and me-too (Samsung already has devices in all sizes), but both points miss the bigger picture. A 12.9-inch iPad may seem absurd until you think about the enterprise where a tablet that size could snatch some of the laptop buying cycle. Larger phones may also seem odd until execs want to consolidate what's in their bags lugged through airports. Two-in-one devices make sense in corporations.

It's quite possible that Apple's screen size barrage is really about becoming the BlackBerry in its heyday---an enterprise juggernaut. Apple's deal with IBM is one obvious data point that the company under CEO Tim Cook is much more in tune with the enterprise. Cook also realizes that the enterprise game is lucrative, can move units and has a longer tail than the consumer market. What if CIOs start saying "no one is fired for buying from Apple"? Here's what'll happen: Apple will defy the laws of large numbers and continue to grow even if there's no iTV or iWatch ready for prime time.

apple MMO

Here's the real punch line: In spite of itself, Apple has an enterprise foothold and is still early. Consider the following:

  • Enterprises are in the middle of a corporate PC upgrade cycle. Traditional vendors are pitching 2-in-1 devices and may find an audience because corporations would rather manage one buying cycle (PCish) instead of two (PCs and tablets). A larger iPad could reach that market the Microsoft Surface is trying to hit.
  • Touch is still in the early innings in corporations. There's a valid reason that Windows 7 is the front runner in the corporation and it goes well beyond the merits of Windows 8. The big reason: Enterprise apps aren't touch ready yet. Application modernization and touch devices go together. Apple could be in the right place at the right time as these enterprise apps are touch enabled.
  • Apple became an enterprise player via the bring your own device movement. Companies find BYOD to be a pain. By teaming with IBM and bulk buying plans, enterprises will give their employees what they want with the perks of central support and management. With Cook, enterprises also have a receptive ear. In that context, Apple's plan to offer a bevy of screen sizes make sense even if they don't excite the masses.

ZDNet's Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. As a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the US.

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