CEO Tim Cook: Apple 'Counting On' Channel Partners For Enterprise Sales

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday that from a go-to-market perspective, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's channel partners play a big part in attacking the enterprise market.

During Apple's earnings call for the fourth quarter, ended Sept. 26, Cook said the growth in Apple's enterprise segment -- rising 40 percent year over year to $25 billion in revenue -- was due in part to the company's blockbuster enterprise deals with vendors like IBM and Cisco. But beyond that, he said, the company's indirect sales -- through channel partners -- also played a big role in appealing to the commercial market.

"As part of our go-to-market point of view, we will be working with IBM and Cisco, and we're already working with 75 mobility partners that are principally in the U.S. … In addition to direct, we have a huge indirect worldwide channel that many customers buy from and are counting on buying more services from," Cook told analysts during the call.

[Related: CEO Robbins Thinks Cisco's Channel Religion Will 'Rub Off' On Apple]

Sponsored post

Apple has been trying to bring its consumer-focused products, including the iPhone, iPad and Macs, to the enterprise market through large-scale partnerships with other vendors.

Most recently, Apple and Cisco revealed a partnership Aug. 31 to optimize Cisco networks for Apple iOS-based devices and apps while also working to create a better business integration between Cisco voice and video environments and the iPhone.

Many solution providers have expressed concern that the deal would be a direct sales play as they don't see Apple as a channel-friendly company. However, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told CRN in an exclusive interview that he predicts Cisco's channel-centric sales strategy will influence Apple to become more channel-friendly as the partnership between the two companies gets underway.

"I think we'll rub off on Apple," Robbins told CRN. "[Apple CEO] Tim [Cook] came to our sales meeting, and he was on stage and saw the magnitude of this organization being together, and I think he realized what we can do in the enterprise. I know Tim well enough to know that he will be looking to us to help them think about what is the go-to-market motion that we need to make this successful, and so I think that will certainly bring the partners into play."

Stephen Monteros, vice president of business development and strategic initiatives at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif.-based Apple partner, said Cook's mention of the company's channel on the earnings call is "noteworthy."

"We can see [Apple] is trying with the channel and we're optimistic," said Monteros. "What we bring is full integration from the device to the network to the infrastructure. When I look at Apple's channel, it provides that full story. Apple provides great devices, but they need the channel to do the integration work."

Outside of Apple's enterprise performance, strong sales of Apple's trademark iPhones, as well as heavy investment in China, continued to fuel the company to success in the fourth quarter, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company said Tuesday.

The smartphone company said it sold 48 million iPhones in the last quarter, up 22.1 percent from the same quarter a year ago, powering earnings of $1.96 per share on sales of $51.5 billion.

The earnings edged above estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, which predicted about $1.88 per share on sales of $51.11 billion, and were about 31 percent higher than the same quarter a year ago.

Apple shares rose 2.6 percent in extended trading.

Meanwhile, sales for Macs were up 3.6 percent from the same quarter last year, with 5.71 million units sold, while iPad sales were down 19.5 percent year over year, with only 9.88 million units sold.

Cook said he remains bullish on iPhone sales in the upcoming holiday quarter, particularly as sales from the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus upgrades start to kick in and pave the way for an "open field" for Apple device sales.

"We believe the iPhone will grow in Q1, and we base that on what we're seeing from a switcher's point of view," said Cook. "We've seen the highest rate on record for Android switchers in the last quarter. … We also look at the number of people that upgraded in the install base prior to iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, so we feel we have an open field in front of us."