Apple Inc., maker of the iPhone and Macintosh computer, has enlisted Unisys Corp. to help it sell more to businesses and U.S. government agencies, expanding beyond a customer base made mostly of consumers.
Unisys will provide maintenance and other services to companies and government agencies that purchase Apple devices, Gene Zapfel, a managing partner at Unisys, said in an interview. One of the first of its kind for Apple, the contract was signed this month, Zapfel said. He didn’t discuss terms of the deal.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is stepping up his pitch to business users. The company said last week that the iPhone is being deployed or tested by 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies and the iPad is being used or tested by 65 percent of Fortune 100 companies. Unisys will help ensure Apple products work well with a customer’s existing computers and systems.
“Most of those organizations are still pretty heavily PC- based,” Zapfel said. “Apple is going to crack the nut and clients are going to start buying a lot more.”
Apple has tended to cater mostly to consumers, though it’s adding corporate customers in part because of widening interest in other products, such as its mobile phones, said Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher & Co. in San Francisco.
“Apple will get adoption of more Mac clients in the enterprise because of the iPhone,” Marshall said, citing the way users of Apple’s iPod media player helped attract customers to Macintosh products.
Catering to Companies
The company doesn’t say what portion of its $65.2 billion in annual sales come from corporations and governments. Apple’s push for those customers has increased in the past 18 to 24 months, said Marshall, who recommends buying Apple shares and doesn’t own any himself. More than 150 sales people are dedicated specifically to enterprise customers, he said.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, rose $1.37 to $308.84 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 47 percent this year. Unisys, based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, added 42 cents to $31.20 on the New York Stock Exchange. It has slumped 19 percent this year.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.
Even before the partnership, Unisys had begun creating iPhone applications for government clients. One, used by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, lets border patrol agents check the status of border-crossing technology from an iPhone.
As part of its arrangement with Apple, Unisys expects to build applications for other government agencies, he said.
A key to landing the Apple deal was figuring out how to secure information sent over the iPhone, Zapfel said.
“There are all sorts of layers you have to put into it to make sure nobody can tap into it,” he said. “We’ve put a lot of heavyweight engineering into securing the device, which, frankly, no one else has figured out yet.”
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