(Reuters) - Apple Inc is taking another step into the corporate computing world by partnering with SAP to develop apps that run the German company’s widely used business software on smartphones and tablets, the two companies said on Thursday.
The consumer electronics giant, which historically has remained aloof from the unglamorous but potentially lucrative market for enterprise software, has in the past two years set partnerships with IBM, Cisco Systems and now SAP that enable Apple products to reach a growing audience of business professionals.
SAP, whose business software runs inside 87 percent of the world’s 2,000 biggest companies, said it would work with Apple to develop mobile business apps for iPhones and iPads that run on its HANA database software.
HANA software represents SAP’s biggest new platform in two decades. SAP is seeking to entice its vast base of multinational corporate customers to convert their classic packaged software for managing financial planning, human resources, manufacturing and external supply chains by moving to cloud-based software run over the Internet and its HANA database.
The collaboration with Apple makes HANA available not just to iPad-toting executives but also to “edge workers on the field,” said Kevin Ichhpurani, executive vice president for strategic business development at SAP. Newer rivals like ServiceNow and Salesforce.com already are targeting field workers with some products that run on smartphones.
A 2014 study by business software maker VMware showed that Apple’s reputation as anything but a business-computer supplier is out of date. It found that two-thirds of corporate enterprises now allow employees to use Apple computers as well as traditional Microsoft Windows products.
In September last year, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook boasted that Apple’s enterprise business had generated $25 billion, or roughly 14 percent of the company’s revenue, in the past year.
The vast majority of its revenue continues to come from phones, computers and related services aimed at consumers.
Apple runs its supply chain for managing its global manufacturing and logistics operations on SAP software, according to market research firm Gartner.
Reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt; Additional reporting by Rishika Sadam; Editing by Bill Rigby