The thoughts below are from Adam Lashinsky, Fortune’s assistant managing editor for technology coverage. He welcomes feedback at email@example.com. You can also tweet at him via @adamlashinsky.
We’re in one of those Apple moments again. There’s a tough new documentary out about Steve Jobs by the famous filmmaker Alex Gibney. In a month, the feature film by Aaron Sorkin based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs is due. Wednesday, of course, the world will be glued to news out of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, where Apple’s fans expect new iPhones, iPads, an Apple TV, and maybe more.
With the world’s attention focused on Apple’s much-ballyhooed attempt to get into our living rooms, I’ve been distracted instead by the incongruity of Apple’s attention to big businesses. If you believe Apple’s sincerity in going after this market, and I do, it’s a sure sign that under Tim Cook’s leadership Apple isn’t stuck anymore in the ways of Steve Jobs. You can quibble with the direction Cook is leading, but you can’t question that he’s leading.
The latest example is an announcement Apple made last week with Cisco. The two tech giants will market Apple’s mobile devices to Cisco’s vast info-tech customer base. Tim Cook even flew to Las Vegas to appear onstage with Executive Chairman John Chambers at a Cisco sales event. Anyone who has watched Apple for even a short period of time knows this is heresy. Steve Jobs despised selling to what is known in the tech world as “the enterprise.” Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd, now co-CEO of Oracle, related in a public appearance earlier this year how Jobs spoke about his dislike for selling to businesses:
Steve told me one time, ‘I don’t want to do your job. I don’t want to have to fly and go see customers. You actually go see customers and you talk to them, and they say mean things to you. It just doesn’t sound like fun to me. In my job, customers come to see me.’
Tim Cook, on the other hand, realizes that Apple can only go so far selling to consumers. So he’s crafted alliances with IBM and now Cisco to extend Apple’s reach. Even the language Apple and Cisco use to broadcast the initiative is sure to amuse students of their history. The two companies unveiled a “partnership to create a fast lane for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps, integrating iPhone with Cisco enterprise environments and providing unique collaboration on iPhone and iPad,” the companies jointly said. The funny part there is that Cisco once owned the terms “iPhone” and “IOS”—before Steve Jobs steamrolled Cisco into giving them up. (I recount both episodes in my book, Inside Apple.) At the time, Cisco meekly acquiesced to Apple’s demands. Now the companies are working together.
Every now and again things really do change.
Yes, there’s a big Apple event today. Be sure to follow Fortune‘s live blog from correspondent Philip Elmer-DeWitt. There is plenty of other news to mention this morning, including the latest on Yahoo’s plan to sell its Alibaba stake. Plus, watch out Carly Fiorina. Another former tech exec is running for president, eccentric software millionaire John McAfee.
TOP OF MIND
Hello room service, can you send up a virtual reality headset? Marriott will loan Samsung technology to guests at premium properties in New York and London. The devices come preloaded with content touting travel in Bejing, Chile, and Rwanda. (Fortune)
Yahoo’s Alibaba spinoff may not be tax-free. The IRS won’t issue a preliminary ruling on the deal, which means the Internet giant may need to consider other options. That led many analysts to cut their estimates. (Fortune, Reuters)
Meanwhile, Alibaba projects slower growth. The primary culprit is the stagnating Chinese economy. (Journal)
FireEye covets federal contracts. The high-profile security company has cleaned up massive data breaches for Sony Pictures Entertainment, Anthem, and Home Depot. But it might not be profitable until at least 2018. More government business could help. (Wall Street Journal)
Instagram wants more advertisers. With its new service, the visual social network could generate $1 billion in annual revenue in the next three to four years. (Fortune)
Microsoft steps up tablet offensive. Dell and Hewlett both agreed to sell the technology to corporate customers in a deal reminiscent of the Apple-IBM alliance. (Fortune)
Amazon hires exec to lead social responsibility. Former BP employee Christine Bader joins amid criticism over the company’s work culture, as well as its little-understood environmental policies, including as renewable energy sourcing for its cloud services division. (Computerworld)
More Chinese smartphone vendors move downmarket, in an attempt to dent Xiaomi’s dominance. (Fortune)
Watch out, Yelp. Facebook just launched even more services intended to lure small businesses away from the mobile web and onto the social network. (Fortune)
The taxman comes for cloud companies like Netflix, and confusion reigns
In recent years, cash-strapped states and cities have started applying their sales tax laws to Internet-based activities, and for many companies the process is becoming a nightmare. The reason is that, when it comes to remote services like Netflix or Amazon Web Services, it can be hard to pinpoint where a transaction takes place–and it’s harder still to know when to apply a tax and who should collect it. The situation is creating confusion in states and cities, and no solution is in sight.
BITS AND BYTES
Finally, an “I’m sorry” from Hillary. The Democratic Presidential candidate Tuesday took responsibility for her much-criticized decision to use a private email server for official State Department correspondence. (Fortune)
CrunchBase prepares to go it alone. The “definitive database of the startup ecosystem” is working on a deal with Emergence Capital. (TechCrunch)
Samsung Pay gets its U.S. debut in late September. Meanwhile, adoption of the mobile payments service in Korea is averaging 25,000 new users daily. (Reuters)
Google commits cloud to cancer research. It’s offering special pricing to the well-regarded Broad Institute, affiliated with Harvard and MIT. (Fortune)
Verizon plans 5G wireless trials for early 2016. Tests have already begun at labs in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass. (Computerworld)
eBay overhauls mobile apps, amid the revelation that 8.2 million new listings are added that way every week. (Fortune)
Meet the latest tech unicorn. Identity management company Okta’s $75 million infusion values it at $1.2 billion, close to double its valuation in June 2014. (Journal)
MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS
iPhone 7 predictions: Thinner, lighter, Force Touch-ier by Andrew Nusca
Flipboard CEO Mike McCue: We’re not afraid of Apple News by Mathew Ingram
Get real, Netflix: There’s nothing “complex” about downloading movies by Jeff John Roberts
More mobile business apps have an industry focus. Here’s why. by Heather Clancy
GoPro cameras aren’t just for adrenaline junkies anymore by Jason Cipriani
ONE MORE THING
Most gadgets are easier to repair than you think. Many consumer electronics companies do their best to make it inconvenient and expensive, but there are reasonable alternatives. (Journal)