Apple Channel Strategy Ripens With New Hires, iPad Certification

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While Apple for years has had a number of solution provider partners that evangelize and sell its products, the company has never been considered overly friendly to the channel. Now, with iPhones and iPads flooding into organizations and creating a need for integration services, Apple is thinking differently about the role that the channel can play in its business.

In the past year, Apple has hired at least 10 channel executives and mid-level managers whose backgrounds collectively include dozens of years of experience at some of the industry's most channel-focused companies. Apple has also quietly launched a Mobility Technical Competency (MTC), through which solution providers can become members of the Apple Consultants Network and obtain technical services certification for deploying iPhones and iPads on enterprise networks.

One of the new hires is Francois Daumard, a 12-year Microsoft channel veteran who came to Apple in May and is now managing iPhone and iPad channel development. As one of the driving forces behind MTC, Daumard is responsible for recruitment and sales enablement of partners that are looking to deploy mobility solutions on the iPhone and iPad, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment on whether the recent hires are part of a strategy to increase its level of channel expertise. The company also didn't respond to an inquiry about how much of its business goes through the channel.

Cohen Barnes, president and CEO of TBC Net, a Sycamore, Ill.-based solution provider, said MTC is strategically important because it allows Apple to leverage the skills of Microsoft solution providers. “Apple isn’t geared up to support the Microsoft side and the integration of these devices with Windows-based networks,” Barnes said. “Apple will now have the ability to reach out to predominantly Microsoft partners in a way they haven’t been able to in the past.”

This is an intriguing development because one of Apple’s core guiding principles is that its products are so simple they don’t require high-level IT support. But the consumerization of IT makes complexity an inevitable fact of life for enterprise CIOs, who must ensure that iPhones and iPads are connecting to the network securely and that corporate data on these devices is safe. CIOs must also make granular decisions, such as which applications can run and whether to disable device cameras for security purposes.

Cognizant of these challenges, Apple is turning to solution providers to ensure that when enterprise customers are accessing their corporate calendar, e-mail and address books on Apple mobile devices, they’re doing so securely. MTC is intended to identify a go-to team of partners Apple can turn to for iPhone and iPad integration work.

While existing Apple Consultants Network members also have integration skills, their focus has traditionally been on the Mac platform and desktops and servers. Essentially, Apple has a gap when it comes to the expertise necessary to deploy mobile devices in enterprise network environments, and that’s the impetus behind MTC, according to solution providers familiar with the program.

NEXT: Why Apple Launched The Mobility Technical Competency

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