Tim Cook says businesses need to step up where governments don’t

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple’s Tim Cook encourages corporate action to improve human rights.

Just 10 years ago, a little startup called Box premiered with the idea that it could make a business out of storing people’s documents on servers they don’t have to maintain, otherwise known as the cloud.Tim Cook has told a conference of business executives that American corporations have a responsibility to help improve equality, the environment and public education because of a lack of government progress in the past few decades.Businesses accounted for $25bn of Apple’s $200bn sales in the year to the end of June, but Mr Cook said the company was aiming to play a bigger role in the corporate IT industry. Now, Box BOX -0.40% is a public company that boasts over 40 million users and roughly 50,000 business customers, CEO Aaron Levie said on Tuesday at his company’s annual conference in San Francisco.

The tech giant’s enterprise technology sales reached $25 billion for the twelve month period ending in June. “This is not a hobby,” Cook said on stage Tuesday at the annual conference hosted by cloud storage and work collaboration company Box. “This is a real business.” To be fair, $25 billion is just a fraction of the $200 billion in sales Cook projects Apple AAPL -3.04% will collect this year. In a sign of the determination to serve more corporate customers, he delivered the message at a third-party event, BoxWorks, run by the online collaboration service Box.

BOX, -0.40% “It’s a very small amount compared to what the opportunity is.” Apple has pushed to get its products into the business world beyond its traditional base of consumers. It’s free,” said Cook. “Business has an important responsibility to society and that has grown markedly in the last couple of decades as government has found it more difficult to move forward and get as much done. To reinforce the notion that the company is no longer the small startup it once was, executives from Microsoft MSFT 0.35% , IBM IBM -0.04% , and Kaiser Permanente took to the stage to tell the audience how they used Box or integrated its technology with their own software. Cook’s appearance at an enterprise software conference was intended to drive home the point that Apple wants to be taken seriously as a company that can sell to businesses. So you have to transform your business.” “When you look at the penetration of mobile in enterprise, it’s shocking how low it is, and then when you look at what people are doing with it, it’s shocking how many people haven’t gone beyond emails and browsing and these kinds of things,” he said. “I’m not sure anyone at this point that I’ve seen, including ourselves, deserves a really high grade compared to the opportunity that’s there.” Under Mr Cook, Apple has latterly been seeking to bury the hatchet with old industry foes to help it crack the enterprise market.

Levie and other Box executives showed off new features, like an upgraded video player for businesses to share and watch videos, the ability for healthcare companies to share and edit medical images like X-rays, and support for 3D images. They’re in essence born with a built-in headwind and things aren’t equal.” Research published in June by the bipartisan advocacy group First Focus found that the US government has consistently decreased spending on education, falling from 1.27% of overall spending in 2011 to just over 1% in 2015. Last year it signed a major development and distribution partnership with IBM and at this month’s launch of the new iPad Pro even invited Microsoft on stage to demonstrate its Office software. Mr Cook said: “Just as in the consumer area, where we have built an ecosystem that has so many apps… we needed that expertise on the enterprise side, so we partnered with people to do that.” The iPhone is increasingly emerging as the dominant smartphone for corporate IT departments, as the decline of BlackBerry continues.

Manufacturers such as Samsung, which use Google’s popular Android operating system, have meanwhile struggled to gain a foothold in businesses, partly due to the array of versions of the software that are in use. He said Apple’s data centres run on 100% renewable energy and that almost 90% of its supply chain now uses renewable energy too. “In some areas I don’t want anyone to copy us but in this one, I want everybody to copy us.” Cook was talking to Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, which provides cloud storage for businesses. The fact that the app is built specifically for Apple mobile devices underscores how Box believes that partnering with Apple could win more customers as more workers use their personal iPhones and iPads in the office.

Cook heavily pushed Apple’s strategy of expanding their products to businesses, saying Apple, which currently has a market capitalisation of $631bn, needed partnerships with IBM, Cisco and Box to diversify into specialist business markets, such as financial services. Levie explained that Box could not have gotten to where it’s at without the help of the companies that it’s partnered with, and he singled out Microsoft as a prime example. However, because Apple has not traditionally sold to businesses, it lacks the relationships required to land big business deals. “We don’t have deep knowledge of all the verticals that enterprise is in,” Cook acknowledged, referring to selling to specific sectors like the financial services and energy. And just to show it’s not just inking deals with these old-school tech businesses, it has also partnered with Box and electronic document startup DocuSign to make its iPad more attractive to businesses. You want to have as many friends as you can have and if you can serve someone else better by partnering then you should do it.” Levie, wearing bright blue socks with white clouds combined with blue and orange sneakers, asked where Apple could go from here. “Maybe an airplane?

Because developers need to use Apple computers to create the software (although there are some workarounds), the company’s PC sales could increase too. It’s a trend nowadays for technology companies to partner with one another, explained Cook, because customers don’t want to buy all their products from one producer. They want a variety of products and services from a variety of players. “You want to do business with someone that is part of an ecosystem,” Cook said. “The island days are gone,” he said referring to companies that operate in isolation.

When Cook said this, Levie couldn’t resist an opportunity for a joke, and asked Cook “Is that a reference to Larry Ellison’s island?” Ellison, of course, owns most of the Hawaiian island of Lanai.

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