Apple Focuses on Business Computing as iPad Sales Decline

Sales of the once-popular iPads are tumbling, and Apple is taking a hard look at business computing as a way to offset the loss. To make the iPad a tool more compatible to the workplace, the Silicon Valley company has begun to collaborate with more than 40 technology companies to create the kinds of apps and tools that will make it appealing to businesses, a sector it has never seriously gone after. With an estimated $2 trillion spent every year on technology for the workplace, the stakes are big.

According to The Wall Street Journal, sales from iPads, which have been sliding for six straight quarters, declined 24 percent in the nine months ending June 27, compared with the same period a year earlier. To increase its expertise in business computing, Apple has invited executives from Xero Ltd, an accounting firm, and other business-app partners to train Apple business specialists. The company also opened up a closed-door meeting to other partners.

True to Apple’s predilection for secrecy, says WSJ, “some program details are unclear even to the participants… officials at some partners say they’re not sure of their role in selling apps and don’t know the identities of all the other partners.” The program is known as “mobility partner program” or MPP, but Apple discourages use of the name in public.

Though this business-apps alliance — which Apple first disclosed in an April phone call with investors — is in its early days, Apple says the efforts are paying off. An Apple ally connected the company with an iPad business customer that had never spoken to Apple, and Apple encourages its business app partners to collaborate.

A year ago, Apple partnered with International Business Machines Corp. to “jointly create custom iPad apps.” WSJ also reports that Apple hopes to sell bundles of apps targeting specific businesses and is also looking at focusing on mobile phone carriers to sell apps and devices to businesses.