While Apple's iPad sales continue to decline overall, the tablet is surging in demand from an unlikely source. The New York Times reports that nearly half of all iPad sales are to corporations and governments, with high-end iPad sales to business customers particularly strong. "Apple is stronger in the enterprise market with its devices than it is with consumers," says Forrester analyst Frank Gillet, in a statement to the Times.
The boost from businesses and governments would have seemed highly unlikely six years ago when the iPad was originally launched, but Apple has been keen to woo businesses over to its mobile tablet in recent years. Apple teamed up with IBM to launch a range of business-focused iOS apps back in December 2014, and the company has also been working with Cisco and SAP to ensure iPads work well in enterprises.
Apple even teamed up with Microsoft to make the iPad Pro a success. During the tablet's launch, Microsoft's Office chief, Kirk Koenigsbauer, jumped on stage to demonstrate Office for iPad Pro. Microsoft has consistently tweaked its Office software for the iPad Pro ever since to make it more powerful, and the productivity suite even features in Apple's latest iPad Pro commercial. Apple wants everyone to believe that the iPad Pro is a real computer capable of real work, and it's clear that businesses are adopting it that way for their mobile computing needs.
Apple's success in the enterprise is unusual
Apple's fresh success in the enterprise is unusual for the company. Microsoft has typically dominated desktop computing inside businesses, and Steve Jobs always focused Apple on building products that consumers would love. Jobs even called IBM's best customers an "orifice," and famously gave IBM the finger in a classic photo during the ‘80s era when Apple competed aggressively with IBM. Apple even aired a commercial depicting IBM as Big Brother from the George Orwell novel.
Apple has an advantage over both Android and Windows for tablets in the enterprise. Google's Android security is often seen as inferior to iOS, and Windows has lacked touch-based apps to take advantage of a true mobile tablet mode. Under Tim Cook, Apple will now attempt to balance how it sells the iPad as the future of computing to both consumers and businesses. It's a delicate balance that will shape exactly what form factor the iPad evolves into in the future. Apple built the iPad Pro to replace Windows, and now it has to prove it truly can.