Apple and Cisco team up to sell to businesses

August 31, 2015, 9:28 PM UTC
Photograph by George Frey — Getty Images

Apple has partnered with networking giant Cisco Systems to help sell more iPhones and iPads to business customers.

The deal, announced Monday, opens a new channel for Apple to market its electronics. It’s also intended to make it easier for businesses to use Cisco products like its video and web conferencing services and chatting software on Apple’s mobile devices.

“Together with Cisco, we believe we can give businesses the tools to maximize the potential of iOS and help employees become even more productive using the devices they already love,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

The two companies, which will band together to sell to businesses, have been working on the partnership for ten months, said Rowan Trollope, Cisco’s senior vice president and general manager of Cisco’s collaboration technology group. As of now, no new products have been announced under the partnership.

But Trollope said that both Cisco and Apple sales teams would soon meet with business leaders at other companies to discuss their technology needs. The conversations are intended to help give Cisco and Apple ideas about the products they will develop together.

Making iOS devices compatible with Cisco’s networking technology is not an easy task that can be done by just one company, Trollope explained. The partnership makes it easier for their joint engineering staffs to work together.

Eventually, potential customers will be able to prioritize mobile traffic on their networks so that workers watching YouTube videos on their iPhones won’t hog all of a company’s bandwidth, explained Rowan. To help businesses prioritize network traffic from Apple devices, both Cisco and Apple engineers will work on updating Apple’s mobile operating system, which “would be difficult without a joint engineering project,” Rowan said.

Rowan declined to say how many Cisco and Apple (AAPL) engineers are involved or any timeline for when the new products will hit the market.

Cisco has been trying to create new product lines outside of its core networking and switching businesses to help boost its sales. Sales of its video and web conferencing systems as well as other communications services, for example, grew 14% year over year in the most recent quarter to $1.09 billion.

An Apple partnership is one way Cisco (CSCO) could try to convince more businesses to buy its other products. For Apple, it’s just another way to make a bigger push into businesses.

Last summer, Apple partnered with IBM (IBM) to create and sell mobile devices and business apps. Since then, the two companies have been rolling out a steady stream of apps that target specific industries, like an Apple Watch app for nurses and another for police officers.

With sales of the iPad on the decline, Apple has been turning to the enterprise to help boost demand. In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple was working with over 40 tech companies to help make its iPad a more business-friendly tool that companies would want their workers to use.

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