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Amid iPhone Slump, Apple Makes New Enterprise Overture

After a quarterly earnings report revealed a surprising slump in iPhone sales, Apple last week announced a new overture into the enterprise mobility space with partner SAP, paving the way for new opportunities for iOS developers.

Bloomberg last December reported that financial analysts were predicting an iPhone sales slump, and those predictions were borne out in the recent second-quarter earnings report, prompting Reuters to report on the company's renewed emphasis on its service business in the face of first-ever flagging phone sales.

The new deal with SAP might indicate Apple also plans to recoup lost revenue with more enterprise initiatives, a space it long ago basically ceded to archrival Microsoft and other competitors as it focused on the consumer side.

"Apple and SAP today announced a partnership to revolutionize the mobile work experience for enterprise customers of all sizes, combining powerful native apps for iPhone and iPad with the cutting-edge capabilities of the SAP HANA platform," Apple and SAP announced last week. Several days later, the deal is still the lead item on the SAP Web site: "Apple & SAP partner to revolutionize work on iPhone & iPad."

The SAP HANA Cloud Platform "is a platform-as-a-service for extending, integrating and building apps to meet new challenges, attract new customers and drive new business," its site states. The new partnership will involve the delivery of a new iOS software development kit (SDK) for HANA along with training to help developers create native iOS enterprise business apps, the companies said in their joint announcement.

"We are developing dozens of new, native iOS industry apps for core business processes, built with Swift, Apple's modern programming language, which will allow customers to fully leverage the data in their SAP enterprise systems to transform how they run their business anywhere," SAP's Steve Lucas said in a blog post last week.

"In addition to the app goodness, we will provide SAP's 2.5million+ community of developers with next-generation tools and training -- including a SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK for iOS and an SAP Academy for iOS -- to build, extend and run a new class of native iOS apps powered by the HANA Cloud Platform (HCP)," Lucas continued. "This means developers get access to the power of HANA, in the cloud!"

Along with the new SDK and the new training academy, a new SAP Fiori for iOS design language based on SAP Fiori is in the works. The companies said all three will begin rolling out by year's end.

"This partnership will transform how iPhone and iPad are used in enterprise by bringing together the innovation and security of iOS with SAP's deep expertise in business software," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "As the leader in enterprise software and with 76 percent of business transactions touching an SAP system, SAP is the ideal partner to help us truly transform how businesses around the world are run on iPhone and iPad."

The SAP deal continues Apple's foray into enterprise app development, exemplified by another partnership, this one with IBM. "Apple and IBM are redefining the mobile enterprise by combining the exponential power of corporate data with the world's most advanced mobile technology," Apple says on its IBM partnership site. "This global partnership is delivering a new generation of IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps that connect users to big data and analytics right on their iOS devices -- changing the way they work in empowering ways."

The IBM Swift Sandbox
[Click on image for larger view.] The IBM Swift Sandbox (source: IBM)

After Apple open sourced its new Swift programming language late last year, IBM provided a sandbox in which developers could play around with it, following up with a runtime preview as the next step in its efforts to advance server-side development with the new language. IBM added the Swift runtime preview to its Bluemix cloud offering, along with a new Swift Package Catalog.

"IBM is committed to maturing the use of Swift as a server-side language for enterprise development," IBM said at the time. "Traditionally, different technologies are used to develop the application on the client and the business logic on the server. By bringing Swift beyond the client to the server, IBM is breaking down barriers between front-end and back-end development, which can provide enterprises a single language to build rich experiences and back-end business logic."

More enterprise initiatives might be in the offing, to the benefit of iOS developers.

"Mobile apps on iOS, built natively to access all the features and functionality of the hardware and software, will make digital transformation even more prevalent across enterprise," Lucas said. "For the salesperson on the go, to the home healthcare worker -- access to data, that is accurate and completely real-time, is a game changer. Coupling SAP's wealth of data management with Apple's beloved user experience will enable transformation because life just got a lot easier.

"Where will we go from here, with all of the benefits our partnership will bring? It's going to be a thrilling ride."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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