appleinsider logo
Affiliate Disclosure
If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Read our ethics policy.

Apple's iPhone cements its position as the 'smartphone of choice for business'

Apple's chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer detailed Apple's leading position in the enterprise and among government agencies, noting custom corporate app development, mass device deployments and a recent new security clearance.

President Obama shown with an iPad 2 in 2011. Photo via The White House.

"iPhone continues to be the smartphone of choice for business," Oppenheimer stated in his prepared remarks during the company's quarterly earnings call. "Given the security and stability of iOS, enterprise and government customers around the world continue to deploy iPhone on their networks in ways that go far beyond personal productivity," he added.

"Companies have built tens of thousands of custom apps to improve every aspect of their business. Global companies including American Airlines, Cisco, General Electric, Roche and SAP have deployed more than 25,000 iPhones each across their organizations."

American's flying adoption of iOS devices

In June, American Airlines announced it had deployed more than 8,000 iPads and is now using Apple's touchscreen tablet as an electronic flight bag in the cockpit of its entire fleet of airplanes.

American became the first major commercial airline company to fully utilize tablets in all cockpits during all phases of flight, allowing it to eliminate 24 million pages of paper documents, save an estimated 400,000 gallons of jet fuel each year, worth $1.2 million, and help prevent back injuries among pilots who will no longer have to carry heavy bags full of paper flight manuals.

American Airlines iPad use
Credit: American Airlines

Cisco dumps Android tablet plans, partners with Apple

Cisco's enthusiastic adoption of iPhone is notable given that the company had earlier attempted to launch its own "Cius" Android-based tablet and Umi set top box, both oriented toward video conferencing.

In addition to steamrolling both products with FaceTime, Apple's iPhone and camera-packing iPods also helped to destroy the market for Cisco's Flip digital camera, just two years after the company had paid $590 million to acquire it.

Cisco had also earlier sued Apple over the name "iPhone," which it had used on a landline phone product. The two companies quickly settled the matter in 2007, and in 2010, Cisco further agreed to license the name "iOS" to Apple. Cisco had long used the brand "IOS" to refer to its own, unrelated router operating system.


General Electric's large scale adoption of iPhone began in 2008, leading to support for an employee pilot program to test support for one thousand new Mac notebooks and desktops beginning in 2011.

The "Bring Your Own Device" trend at GE has also occured at many other companies. Last year, Forrester expected corporate and government spending on Macs and iPads to increase 50 percent to $19 billion in 2012, even as PC spending was expected to slide from $71 billion year down to $69 billion.

Apple in the enterprise

Last spring, Oppenheimer also cited Roche as a major iPad customer, noting that "thousands of iPads are being deployed as mobile sales tools" by companies including Roche, Amgen and Bayer.

SAP uses Apple & vice versa

In 2010, the president of SAP North America Rob Enslin told a reporter that he traveled with only an iPad and a BlackBerry, adding that Apple's new iPad had almost allowed him to "run a paperless office." SAP was also noted to have developed an app to let managers approve shipping of customer orders, and the company said it had a handful of other apps planned.

Conversely, a report on Apple's investments in India noted that the iPhone maker relies on resource planning software from SAP to manage its complex overseas supply chain.

Here to help the government

Oppenheimer's comments also noted that "U.S. government organizations such as NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency are supporting and managing thousands of iPhones on their networks and continue to create both customer-facing and internal iOS apps."

Apple's products were on conspicuous display at NASA's JPL last year during the Mars Curiosity landing, when dozens of MacBooks, along with iPhones and iPads, were shown in use at the agency's Entry, Descent and Landing Operations team (above). iPhone holds a 62.5 percent share of the U.S. commercial market based on the latest quarterly data published by IDC.

NOAA made news early last year when it announced it was extending official support for iPhones and iPads while at the same time phasing out support for BlackBerry.

In parallel, the ATF announced similar plans to drop support for 3,800 BlackBerry devices after a decade of supporting the devices, and said it would primarily be migrating to iPhones for its staff including 2,400 special agents.

Oppenheimer also noted that, "in just this past quarter, iOS 6 was granted FIPS [Federal Information Processing Standard] 140-2 validation by the U.S. Federal Government and approval by the U.S. Department of Defense to connect to their networks."

via NIST Computer Security Division

The approval should help iOS adoption among other government agencies, although there has already been widespread support for iOS over the past year and a half since the General Services Administration added Apple's iOS to its approved purchasing list. And even prior to GSA approval, the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command announced plans to buy as many as 18,000 iPads for use as cargo aircraft digital flight bags.

"Combining sales to business, government and education customers," Oppenheimer concluded, "iPhone holds a 62.5 percent share of the U.S. commercial market based on the latest quarterly data published by IDC."