Apple's Corporate Sales Gloves Come Off, and Microsoft Will Get Bruised

Last Updated Oct 26, 2010 3:53 PM EDT

For years, Apple (AAPL) has appeared indifferent to business sales -- welcoming them, but not putting the corporation out to get them. That all seems different, now that the iPhone and iPad have a chance to make inroads into corporate America that Macs had difficulty in doing. Latest news is a partnership between Apple and Unisys (UIS), as Bloomberg Businessweek reports. And it's all bad news for Microsoft (MSFT).

Under the deal, Unisys would help Apple sell to corporations and the U.S. government, two areas that generally take experienced salespeople and where Apple generally ventured. Not that no large corporations use Apple products, but the company has never developed the specialized marketing and sales expertise necessary to really crack such markets.

Ironically, the increasingly consumer-oriented products have made the shift possible. An iPhone or iPad is inexpensive enough, particularly when a carrier subsidizes the price, to avoid the sticker shock that has often accompanied corporation consideration of Macs.

This isn't the first step that Apple has taken to expand its focus on business markets.
The reason for all this is revenue growth. Although Apple has seen big expansion in its various business lines, there is stiff competition by Android on the mobile front, many tablets that will come out to compete with the iPad, and Macs are still a small portion of corporate client purchases.

According to sources that know corporate Mac-related business, both the iPhone and the iPad have been a stealth way into corporations. Executives, taken with the consumer appeal of the devices, have bought them and then pushed to get IT departments to support them. If Apple ever had a time to expand its corporate presence, this is it, and that should worry Microsoft. Not only is the company lagging in mobile, but as cloud computing expands its influence, the dependence on any given client platform will wane. That presents the single largest threat to its business that Microsoft has ever experienced.

Related: Image: RGBStock.com user sqback, site standard license.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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