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Apple is bolstering its growing business with corporate IT customers through a new partnership with Deloitte, as the iPhone maker moves to capitalise on BlackBerry’s withdrawal from the smartphone market.
“The real opportunity for us is expanding how [mobile] devices are used,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, in an interview, “so that they are used for more than email, browsing, messaging and calendaring, and really getting at how people work.”
As part of the deal, Deloitte will create a “first-of-its-kind” practice focused on Apple products staffed by more than 5,000 strategic advisors, to deploy iPhones and iPads in situations from inventory management to retail stores, reports Tim Bradshaw in Cupertino.
The two companies will also create a new consulting unit, EnterpriseNext, to help Deloitte clients more rapidly prototype custom services across more than 20 industries.
“Two big forces, mobility and digitalisation, are fundamentally changing the enterprise,” Punit Renjen, chief executive of Deloitte Global, told the FT. After Apple has already changed the way people live with its iPhones, he said, “we are trying to do that in the way that work gets done.”
Mr Cook said that while apps for consumers have flourished since the App Store launched in 2008, “the enterprise really trailed that in a major way… Many people were living a digital life at home and an analogue life at work.”
Deloitte is Apple’s fourth significant partner in business technology after Mr Cook struck a 2014 deal with IBM to create a range of industry-specific apps for iPhones and iPads. In the two years since, Apple has also secured tie-ups with Cisco, the networking technology provider, and SAP, thebusiness software firm.
“Deloitte is able to work with all of these building blocks,” Mr Cook said, calling the partnership the “next logical step” as Apple looks for larger corporate customers. “They are the trusted advisor for so many Fortune 500 and global 500 companies.”
Wednesday’s announcement of Apple’s deal with Deloitte came just hours after BlackBerry said that it would stop selling its mobile devices in order to focus on software.
BlackBerry’s hardware has been in decline for several years despite its repeated attempts to respond to the iPhone, both by switching to touch-screen devices then trying to double down on the physical keyboards for which it is best known.
“I think their sales have been fairly low for a while,” Mr Cook said of BlackBerry. “We are very focused on the opportunity and we see it as massive.”
Apple is searching for new sources of growth for the iPhone after its flagship product has seen its first decline in sales since its 2007 launch, amid a broader slide in smartphone sales.