Apple’s Eddy Cue: We’re Serious About Business Tech Too

Unboxing Apple Inc. iPhone 6s
An Apple Inc. iPhone 6s smartphone is arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The latest models, following last year's hugely popular design overhaul that added bigger screens, may not match the success of previous releases, according to analysts. Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Xaume Olleros — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Apple wants the world to know that it’s a serious business technology company. On Wednesday, it tried to underscore that message by trotting out yet another top executive at a business software conference.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, appeared on stage at a conference hosted by Dropbox, a cloud storage and work collaboration startup.

Just a little over a month ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at a conference hosted by Dropbox rival Box where he bragged that Apple’s enterprise technology sales had hit $25 billion annually. Apparently, Apple’s financial interests trump loyalty.

Cue followed up on Cook’s talk by reiterating Apple’s push into selling technology to businesses.

“We don’t know vertical markets,” said Cue referring to Apple’s lack of history in selling to specific industries. As a result, it has partnered with industry giants Cisco (CSCO), IBM (IBM), and Microsoft (MSFT) to sell products to customers.

Still, Cue said that Apple’s popularity with consumers has given the company a way into the workplace as more workers use their mobile devices for both their personal and business lives.

When Apple (AAPL) introduced the iPad tablet, Cue said two trends emerged. Not only were consumers buying the devices, but so did executives and top corporate managers.

As a result, “board meetings changed” and executives started to swap documents via their iPads. Eventually with business management teams becoming more comfortable using iPads themselves, they started to introduce them to other workers.

And while some analysts say that Apple has a long way to go to become a big enterprise tech player, Cue said that businesses are still in the early stage of adopting mobile technology. That’s an area Apple can capitalize on, he insisted.

Cue acknowledged Apple’s troubles in the 1990’s, when it neared bankruptcy. Apple was “all over the map,” lacked discipline, and tried to build too many products instead of focusing on just a few, he said.

“It’s hard to lose billions of dollars unless you try to give it away,” Cue joked.

He attributes the company’s resurgence to the return of co-founder Steve Jobs as CEO, a role he likens to a coach on a sports team. When a company has a strong CEO that workers rally behind, it’s likely it will succeed. He explained that bad CEOs can poison a company and cause it to stagnate by the leadership team they surround themselves with.

“The worst part is everybody they bring in is worse,” said Cue.

Currently, Apple has over 100,000 employees, which is more than the company ever had, Cue said. To make sure that it doesn’t feel too bloated and disorganized, Apple put most its engineering teams in its Cupertino headquarters instead of scattering teams around the world.

Few other big Silicon Valley tech companies have adopted a similar strategy.

Cue also talked about how the public’s perception of Apple has changed as it has grown. A large company might be perceived as being a “bully” by the actions it takes to grow its business, he said. However, a smaller company doing the same thing may be admired for its aggression and willingness to do what it takes to ensure that its business flourishes.

And even though Apple is a much bigger company than ever before, Cue said he still views it as an underdog. The company dominates neither the personal computer or mobile phone markets, he pointed out to an audience that likely thinks of Apple as a behemoth.

“We got a lot more way to go,” he said.

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