Apple and SAP have announced a partnership in which they'll deliver a new software development kit (SKD) for SAP enterprise applications on Apple iOS-running devices. Additionally, SAP will develop native iOS apps in the Apple programming language Swift for "critical business operations."
According to Bloomberg Technology, which interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook and SAP CEO Bill McDermott on the Apple campus, SAP will develop "hundreds" of apps.
The SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK for iOS will provide developers and businesses with tools they can use to build their own iOS apps for iPhones and iPads, based on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP's so-called "platform as a service."
"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," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a May 5 statement.
"Through the new SDK, we're empowering SAP's more than 2.5 million developers," he added, "to build powerful native apps that fully leverage SAP HANA Cloud Platform and [iPad features such as Touch ID, Location Services and Notifications]."
A new SAP Fiori for iOS design language will combine Fiori with a consumer-grade iOS experience, and a new SAP Academy for iOS will offer tools and training. The new SDK, design language and Academy will be available before the end of the year.
While executives at SAP customer companies may today use HANA on iPads, the deal will make it easier for SAP capabilities to reach workers at all levels, including in the field, enabling SAP to better compete with rivals such as Salesforce.com.
The deal has the potential to sell millions of devices, Cook and McDermott (pictured, photo courtesy of Apple/Roy Zipstein) told Bloomberg.
"Two things stop people from enjoying mobility benefits," Cook added. "They worry about security or they worry about integrating with their back-end systems." The strengths of the two companies will address both.
Apple Turns to Partners
While a saturated consumer smartphone market has begun to slow Apple's growth, enterprise applications is an area with still plenty of opportunity for optimization and growth.
"For Apple, this is part of an ongoing effort to make iOS devices important in business, especially large enterprises. Where important enterprise applications are available only on iOS, or where they function better on iOS, Apple expands its market and increases loyalty, but the impact on Apple is dwarfed by the size of its consumer business," Ezra Gottheil, a principal analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK.
"This is especially true when you consider that many of the users will already own iPhones," Gottheil added. "Nevertheless, this expands slightly and reinforces Apple's position."
"Apple needs to do a whole series of smaller things to try to keep growth going. That includes penetrating more deeply into the enterprise and breaking down barriers to enterprise adoption, and that in turn means partnering with the companies that make the software most companies run on," Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research, told eWEEK.
"The IBM deal was part of this, and the SAP is a continuation of that strategy — and the Cisco relationship is also part of this mix," Dawson added. "In essence, Apple sees an ongoing opportunity for growth in the enterprise, but it needs help from partners to get its devices to the point where they can be used for some core enterprise tasks."
During Apple's April 26 earnings call, Cook said that the company's enterprise initiatives were "making great progress."
"IBM now has engagements for more than 200 deployments of native iOS apps for large enterprise customers to accelerate mobile transformation," Cook said, "[and] our Mobility Partner Program also continues to grow, with 108 partners across 20 countries."