Steve Jobs with AppleApple watchers never seem to tire of asking when the company will pivot hard toward the enterprise market and re-align its growth strategies to focus on business products. The answer is the same as it always was: Never.
Enterprise sales accounted for about $25 billion, or roughly 13 percent, of Apple's revenue in 2015. That's a healthy chunk of change, but it's still only a small slice of the pie. I frankly don't believe that Apple has a line of "must have" business products that will suddenly make it the brand of choice among the corporate bean counters who sign off on large-scale tech purchases. The iPad Pro is very nice, but it's not a game changer.
Apple's approach to enterprise sales is neither accidental nor haphazard. The strategy is rooted firmly in Apple's deep culture as a B2C (business-to-consumer) company. Steve Jobs always stressed the importance of Apple's B2C posture, and he fundamentally rejected the standard B2B (business-to-business) sales and marketing strategies of competitors like IBM, Microsoft and Xerox.
I think we can all agree that Steve did what he thought was right for Apple, and that he didn't particularly care if Apple's sales and marketing strategies seemed unorthodox or contrarian. From Steve's perspective, Apple was a B2C company, plain and simple.
Why did Steve feel that way? Well, let's take a quick look at the difference between B2B and B2C sales and marketing strategies. In the B2B world, you sit down with a prospect and ask them what they want. You take lots of notes. Then you fly home, sit down with your product development team, tell them what the prospect wants and spend the next six months hoping they can create a product that's reasonably similar to what the prospect asked for, at a price that won't kill the deal.
Steve hated that approach. He much preferred classic B2C strategy, in which smart companies design really cool products that customers love. Steve's strategy was the exact opposite of traditional enterprise sales strategy - and his consumer-centric vision has been an absolutely essential factor in Apple's enduring success.
So when people tell me that Tim Cook's gestures are a repudiation of Steve's vision, I politely disagree. Tim understands that Apple is - and always will be - a B2C company. It's consumer-centric to the core. That's the way Steve wanted it, and that's the way it is.
Will Apple have its ups and downs? Sure, but that's how business works. Last week, Apple announced that sales in mainland China fell 11 percent compared with the same period last year. Does that mean Apple will suddenly fold its tent or abruptly change its overall strategy?
I sincerely doubt it. Apple's in this game for the long term, and my guess is that it will outlast most of its competitors, including many of the B2B players. What's your opinion?