SINGAPORE: Apple's iPhones may be losing their lustre, with fiscal fourth-quarter revenue for the devices dipping 9 per cent on-year. But the tech giant’s enterprise business is quietly growing.
The Apple Developer Enterprise Program allows large organisations and businesses with at least 100 employees to customise in-house apps on the iOS platform. These apps are only for use and distribution within the organisation and its employees.
For US$300 a year, clients receive a licence to develop apps on the iOS platform, and the chance to consult with Apple developers if needed. The apps are covered under the operating system’s privacy and security framework.
Apple's Developer Enterprise Program is “growing faster than the company as a whole” and comes as more companies digitalise their processes, said CEO Tim Cook on Thursday (Dec 12).
"Many need to convert to mobile, and even more need to convert to having apps that are written in the way that their employees are using them at home and so forth,” he said in Singapore as part of a trip to Asia.
While Mr Cook did not say how much Apple’s Enterprise business is worth, or how many organisations use the service, he said it is “already a reasonable percentage of the company,” and climbing fast.
“It’s something (we are) ploughing more resources into. We’re continuing to invest more. Quite frankly the business is growing fast and we want to make sure we’re putting enough in there,” he said.
Apple counts local carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) among its enterprise clients. Others include UK retailer John Lewis & Partners, American financial services firm Capital One and Queensland Police in Australia.
Mr Cook was briefed on how SIA has benefited from the Enterprise Program, which helped the carrier’s employees develop eight apps as part of the collaboration.
The apps cover daily operations for about half of the airline's total workforce, and span flight and airport operations, as well as lounge services.
For example, FlyNow helps pilots consolidate key information such as flight plans, weather forecasts and fuel load, sparing them the hassle of rifling through reams of paper. SIA said this also lets pilots focus on flying the aircraft.
The airline said the apps have shown measurable results in efficiency and productivity gains, although it did not provide figures, citing sensitivities.
The apps are among the latest additions to SIA’s digital arsenal, and comes on the back of a Digital Innovation Blueprint launched in January 2018 as part of ongoing transformation efforts.
“It is not just about setting up IT divisions, putting together all the digital capabilities there, and it will work. We need people who can appreciate what digital can do for the organisation, and for themselves, the work that they do," said SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong.
SIA’s senior vice president of IT George Wang said employee buy-in is crucial for innovation to be sustainable. "That's why we focus on how to upskill our own people, bringing everybody on board on this, providing the opportunity for them to participate in this transformation. "
When asked about what sets Singapore apart as an innovation capital, Mr Cook pointed to the country’s talent and entrepreneurial spirit. He also highlighted Singaporeans’ ability to work collaboratively with people of all different backgrounds and cultures.
“You add all of this up, and Singapore has an enormous competitive advantage in innovation,” he said.