Speaking today with Box CEO Aaron Levie, Apple's Tim Cook spoke about his intention to further leverage its consumer business to grow in the enterprise, arguing that the lines between the two are increasingly blurred. But one line Cupertino won’t blur is the one between iOS and the Mac operating system, OS X.
As part of Apple's enterprise strategy, Cook hinted at future partnerships with long-time rival Microsoft. While Cook boasted about Apple’s enterprise revenues of $25 billion and growing, he's "not a believer in holding grudges" and conceded that partners like IBM and Microsoft know much more about specific enterprise verticals than Apple does.
Apple and Microsoft can partner on more things than they can compete on... I think that’s what the enterprise wants us to do... What we don't bring is we don't have deep knowledge of all the verticals that the enterprise deals with.
When it comes to productivity software in the enterprise, an area where Apple has no serious offering, Cook spoke about Microsoft's expertise. "Office on the Mac is a force," Cook said. "Partnering with Microsoft is great for our customers and that's why we do it.”
In light of Apple's recent introduction of the line-blurring iPad Pro, as well as Windows 8 and 10, Levie asked Cook whether Apple has changed its mind about keeping its operating systems separate. Cook ruled out any future combination of iOS and OS X:
We don't believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. We think it subtracts from both, and you don't get the best experience from either. We're very much focused on two.
With the introduction of the iPad Pro at Apple's most recent event where the tablet was demonstrated with Microsoft Office, the larger iOS tablet is certainly being positioned for professionals, some of whom work in the enterprise.
But it remains to be seen how effectively Apple can compete when it comes to company-wide decisions made by CIOs, many of whom may still favor Windows over iPad. And there's evidence that enterprises are demanding that larger vendors like Dell and HP sell and support Surface devices because they want a desktop-class, fully-merged touch operating system for their workers.