Apple signals B2B push, letting developers build SAP-powered iPhone and iPad apps

Apps on smartphone

Apple is linking the iPhone and iPad with SAP’s enterprise software in a bid to embed its flagship devices deeper into the enterprise.

The consumer tech giant signalled a renewed push into B2B today by allowing developers to build iPhone and iPad apps powered by SAP's HANA Cloud Platform, using a software development kit (SDK) devised by the two tech giants.

The apps should be capable of managing business operations hosted by SAP’s speedy data-processing platform, HANA.

This announcement builds on Apple’s existing partnerships with IBM, Cisco and Microsoft to get its devices into enterprise workers’ hands – a strategy that has turned Apple’s B2B operations into a $25 billion business.

“This partnership will transform how iPhone and iPad are used in enterprise by bringing together the innovation and security of iOS with SAP’s deep expertise in business software,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

Calling SAP the “ideal” partner to promote the iPhone and iPad, Cook added: “Through the new SDK, we’re empowering SAP’s more than 2.5 million developers to build powerful native apps that fully leverage SAP HANA Cloud Platform and tap into the incredible capabilities that only iOS devices can deliver.”

Apps created with the SDK will link users to core data and business services on S/4 HANA, SAP’s reinvented business software suite. They will also offer iOS functionality like Touch ID, locations services and notifications.

SAP will hope the partnership adds a new sheen to HANA Cloud Platform, as a survey conducted by the UK & Ireland SAP User Group today found that a third of customers do not know what it is. Another 52 per cent were unconvinced that S/4 HANA would convince them to buy more cloud services from SAP.

SAP CEO Bill McDermott said: “By combining the powerful capabilities of SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP S/4HANA, together with iOS, the leading and most secure mobile platform for enterprise, we will help deliver live data to people wherever and whenever they choose to work.”

Fiori, SAP’s user interface software that it made available for free for software license holders, will also be combined with iOS to form a new design language, with SAP offering tools and training on it.

In turn, SAP will use Apple’s Swift code to develop iOS apps for critical business applications.

TechMarketView analyst Angela Eager said the agreement would boost Apple’s B2B prospects and SAP’s aim to become a major cloud player.

“It is a win-win situation,” she said. “With the iPhone and iPad in maturity and Apple’s latest Q1 results showing a 13 per cent revenue decline, it is looking for a new business avenue. With lower Apple selling prices, provisioning larger workforces with Apple devices comes into scope.

“For SAP, the partnership is another means of promoting HANA, stimulating applications to encourage its adoption, building its cloud credentials, as well as aligning itself with a provider known for design and innovation.”