Apple's budding partnership with IBM culminated in the release of AppleCare for Enterprise, the company's business-specific support service, but for the vast majority of organizations that use Apple products the initiative is nothing more than a glorified Genius Bar. CIOs and IT professionals welcome Apple's recent interest in the enterprise, but many are still unclear on the levels of support and services the consumer giant offers -- and few are satisfied with Apple's commitment.
AppleCare for Enterprise, which is roughly 8-months-old, includes 24/7 phone and email support for all Apple hardware and software, on-site service from IBM, next-day device replacement, a designated account manager and one-hour response times for urgent issues. These services are virtually unattainable for most business customers because many don't have relationships with both Apple and IBM, a requirement for the support services.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri spoke this week during a company earnings call and said Apple is pleased with its progress in the partnership with IBM and that more than 500 companies participate in the joint enterprise support program.
However, outside of those large companies that have agreements with Apple and IBM, the iPhone maker's communication with CIOs is almost nonexistent, according to Stuart Appley, CIO of real estate firm Shorenstein. "They're immature in their process and evolution of working with a business ... They've never reached out. It's not an easy thing to reach out to Apple at that level." Apple won't become a genuine enterprise partner in most CIOs' minds until it engages with more of the IT community, Appley says.
Apple listens to CIO community but doesn't act
Aaron Gette, CIO of Bay Club, a lifestyle and fitness company, says he spoke with Apple's enterprise sales team in the past, but the level of support he received was superficial at best. "The company line that they've towed is, 'We're always looking to improve, we appreciate your feedback,' but you never see [Apple] taking that advice and running with it," he says. "It's more of a lip service than anything else."
Apple should engage the CIO community to help solve significant IT challenges that impact all businesses, according to Gette, who says he's frustrated that Apple is so behind the curve on enterprise support. Unfortunately, that's always been the status quo for Apple. "We've been telling Apple directly forever, the way that they support the enterprise is terrible."
Even though Apple has a formal enterprise support group anchored to its partnership with IBM, most CIOs can't, or don't know how, to take advantage of it, because they work for businesses that can't afford or don't otherwise need the massive Apple and IBM contracts that are required. All they know is that it's an exclusive program limited to large enterprises that have deals with both companies. "At some point maybe they'll be clearer about what they're offering, but until then you've got to get stuff done, and you can't wait around for Apple," Gette says.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.