updated 04:20 pm EDT, Mon October 25, 2010
Apple's latest enterprise push
Apple has reportedly begun collaborating with Unisys in an attempt to expand its reach into enterprise and government sectors. The contract, which was signed earlier this month, is said to focus on maintenance and other services that Unisys can provide to Apple's range of business customers and various government agencies.
"Most of those organizations are still pretty heavily PC- based," Unisys managing partner Gene Zapfel told Bloomberg in an interview. "Apple is going to crack the nut and clients are going to start buying a lot more."
Apple has continued to improve its iOS products with features aimed directly at businesses or other organizations. A recent report suggests the iPhone 4 quickly dominated new activations on Good Technology's enterprise network, while AT&T has begun selling the iPad directly to all of its business customers. Apple suggests approximately half of Fortune 100 companies are already using the tablet or testing it for future deployment. The iPhone appears to reach even deeper, with approximately 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies either supporting the device or directly distributing it to employees.
The company is said to have a head start in the current tablet market, although several competitors are readying alternative products intended for enterprise use. HP's Windows 7-based Slate 500 and RIM's BlackBerry Playbook are both marketed for business customers. RIM today demonstrated its tablet running healthcare apps and several other utilities familiar to many corporations.
The Unisys contract is not the first push outside of the consumer segment, as a variety of companies and some government agencies have already produced a wide variety of apps for the iPhone or iPad. Zapfel noted that the US Department of Homeland Security previously enlisted Unisys to develop an app that connects with border systems such as surveillance cameras.
Although early versions of Apple's iPhone OS were criticized for a lack of security features, Unisys claims it will work to improve data protection methods. Without a comprehensive set of encryption features, the iPhone has been passed over by some companies that have favored the protected networks offered by RIM's BlackBerry platform.
"We've put a lot of heavyweight engineering into securing the device, which, frankly, no one else has figured out yet," said Zapfel.