Will Apple's New Products Impact Enterprises?

Simon Barton

Apple made six key announcements at its Cupertino campus on Monday evening. They included the unveiling of the iPhone SE, a smaller iPad Pro, a reduction in the Apple Watch’s price, iOS 9.3, a robot called Liam which deconstructs iPhones, and, finally, Carekit – a new health app to work alongside ResearchKit.

Known for keeping its cards close to its chest, Apple went on the offensive yesterday. The company’s ongoing battle with the FBI shows no sign of abating – with President Obama labelling Apple’s security stance ‘absolutist’.  Both parties were due in court today, only for the hearing to be cancelled at the last minute amid claims that the FBI had already found a way to unlock their devices.

It was an event which enterprise mobility leaders would have been keeping a close eye on. The truth, however, was that from an enterprise perspective; it was a little bit of a let down. Tony Rizzo, Blue Hill Research, questioned Tim Cook’s decision to hold the event, further stating: “there was absolutely zero here for the enterprise.”

The theme of Apple’s showcase was size. The company first unveiled a smaller iPhone – the ‘SE’– which has the same processing and graphics performance as the 6S. It can also capture 4K video. Rizzo, however, doubts the phone will have an impact on organisations, he says: “The new iPhone is strictly a "very slightly" less costly iPhone solution geared entirely to the consumer market and targeting consumers who might be willing to spend just a bit more money to upgrade to an iPhone.”

Many companies are now embracing BYOD, and no longer providing their employees with company-owned smartphones. However, the SE’s more affordable price – thought to be $299 – could give those which continue to prescribe to the policy scope to save funds, while also providing their employees with a top-spec phone. 

The powerful iPad pro will also now be available in a smaller size – thought to replicate the dimensions of the first iPad ever released. It will be considerably cheaper – around $599. Its impact on the enterprise, however, is up for debate. “The new iPad Pro 9.7 is also primarily a consumer model that will serve as the next consumer update,” says Rizzo. The original iPad Pro, a device which has had a real impact, thrived because it larger size allowed to be useful for designers and business professionals.

There was, however, some food for thought. The unveiling of Carekit – a platform closely linked to Apple’s current Research Kit app – could be impactful in the healthcare industry by giving users a personalised healthcare experience. It will allow patients to take a more proactive stance to diseases such as Parkinson’s and Diabetes, without being in regular contact with their GP. The application, therefore, will help sufferers deal with the everyday realities of their illness more effectively. We have seen applications such as this take pressure off the healthcare service both financially and operationally. It also makes the company’s strong security stance in its ongoing battle with the FBI more important, as the impact of personal healthcare information in the wrong hands would be severe.

The new iOS 93 version was also announced. The new system will include a number of new features – but for the enterprise, one, in particular, stands out. Apple Notes, an application which, as the name suggest, allows users to take notes, will now include fingerprint Touch ID security protection. For employees, this will allow them to use the application while in important meetings without fear of sensitive company information being hacked. We also saw Apple’s ‘Liam’ robot in action. The robot has now become a central part of their green strategy, repurposing the materials of unwanted iPhones to other products.

The new Apple Watch iteration wasn’t actually featured at the event, but it was announced that the product would be reduced in price. There were also rumours that the Apple Watch 2 would support emails, texts and app updates without the need for an iPhone. This would open the product up to whole new section of the market – and perhaps see its influence within enterprise mobility rise considerably.

As with every event Apple puts on, there was plenty of media coverage. The products the company unveiled, however, could have an impact on enterprise mobility and allow for increased security – seen with the new iOS 93 – and more ubiquitous adoption. As Rizzo points out, the main announcements – the smaller iPad Pro and iPhone SE – are unlikely to have an influence of enterprises.