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The Apple-Cisco partnership announced this week is likely to bolster enterprise use of Apple smartphones and tablets, while improving the performance of Cisco unified communication (UC) apps on the popular mobile devices, said industry analysts.
"It is a very powerful announcement because you've got the two biggest in their respective games coming together," said Matthew Craig, an analyst at the Mokena, Ill.-based firm Nemertes Research Group Inc. "They're both going to help each other out quite a bit."
The collaboration comes at a time when Apple devices -- once largely a consumer product -- have been growing in popularity for business use, Craig said. "You're going to see Apple, which is already pretty heavily into enterprise, continue to grow in size within companies."
To entice corporations to use more Apple iOS for business devices, a "fast lane" would be available to boost performance on Cisco networking gear, said the partners in a joint statement. Cisco would also work on improving unified communication and collaboration (UC&C) apps for Apple's mobile operating system.
Rob Arnold, an analyst with San Antonio, Texas-based Frost & Sullivan, believes the "fast lane" description implies that Cisco will provide tools that companies can use to improve the performance of video conferencing and Web collaboration on iOS devices.
"Maybe the traffic from those devices is prioritized over the network or given a different sensitivity in terms of handling for quality and reliability purposes," he said.
Apple tablet sales slow
Matthew Craig Nemertes Research
Apple's push into the enterprise comes as iPad tablet sales slow. Revenues fell 23% in the quarter ended June 27. The drop reflected a larger pattern of declining tablet shipments across the board. Worldwide shipments will decline 8% this year, twice the 3.8% drop forecast earlier, said market research firm IDC, based in Framingham, Mass.
"For Apple, it [the Cisco deal] is a new way for them to ensure they have a new growth opportunity," Arnold said. Apple is expected to "load up their App Store with business apps."
The Apple-Cisco deal is non-exclusive. Apple could enter similar partnerships with Cisco's rivals, or Cisco could provide the same network advantages to Apple competitors making Android devices. Those manufacturers include Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
"It used to be that you'd have business grade and then you'd have consumer grade," Bern Elliot, analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, said. "Now what we're seeing is that the consumer-type devices and applications are so attractive from a price point and usability that they're being brought deeper and deeper into the business enterprise."
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