Partners Give Apple Executive Shuffle Thumbs-Up

Apple named Jeff Williams as chief operating officer, a position left vacant since Tim Cook was promoted to CEO in 2011. Williams, who is being promoted from his current position as senior vice president, is a 17-year Apple veteran who previously oversaw Apple’s supply chain and service and support segments of the business.

Apple also made a slew of additional changes to its executive roster including promoting Johny Srouji to Apple’s executive team as senior vice president for hardware technologies. He previously held the position of vice president of hardware technologies. Srouji's background at Apple has included being involved in chip sets, sensor silicon and application processors for products across Apple’s massive product line.

’This is going to allow Apple to move faster, smarter and with more focus into the future,’ said Raul De Arriz, government sales manager for Apple partner Small Dog Electronics, Waitsfield, Vt. He said that Srouji's appointment puts someone at the highest level of Apple to sit at the same table with Cook and now Williams to talk about hardware beyond iPads and MacBooks.

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

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’If Apple wants to move into the enterprise and spread its wings with Apple Car technology to compete with Google, it’s going to need to have an executive structure that can move it in that direction,’ De Arriz said.

But partners such as De Arriz said they will still have to wait and see if these recent executive moves bode well for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's channel partners

In October Apple reported growth in its enterprise segment of 40 percent year over year to $25 billion in revenue, saying it was due in large part to the company's blockbuster enterprise deals with vendors like IBM and Cisco Systems. But beyond that, Cook said in the earnings call that the company's indirect sales -- through channel partners -- also played a big role in appealing to the commercial market.

Apple Thursday also said Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller will expand his role to include oversight of Apple’s App Store across all Apple platforms.

One Apple partner, who asked not to be identified, said that there has been some vocal criticism regarding Apple’s App store from both a consumer and a partner perspective as it has tried to serve both business and consumers. The partner said that more focus on the App Store, while good for Apple, may not be beneficial for partners.

’The better the App Store, the fewer opportunities for partners,’ said the partner.

That said, Apple partners say Apple’s success lifts all boats and that its recent push into the enterprise has opened doors for them to win more business and creates new opportunities.

Apple has made it its mission to diversify its portfolio of hardware and software as a way to offset a decline in iPhone sales that analysts anticipate in the next fiscal year. Some of those efforts have included Apple Watch and Apple Music, but have also included new business categories such as inking deals with enterprise leaders such as IBM. On Wednesday, IBM said its enterprise apps partnership with Apple hit a landmark 100 MobileFirst apps across 14 industries and 65 professions.

Schiller, Apple said Thursday, will include strategies to extend the Apple ecosystem beyond the iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.

’In addition, Phil is taking on new responsibilities for advancing our ecosystem, led by the App Store, which has grown from a single, groundbreaking iOS store into four powerful platforms and an increasingly important part of our business,’ said Cook in a prepared statement.

The new appointments also include the hiring of Tor Myhren, who will join the company in 2016 as vice president of marketing communications. Myhren succeeds Hiroki Asai, who had previously announced plans to retire after 18 years with Apple.