SAP’s McDermott Says Call From Jobs Confirmed Tablet Push

Bill McDermott, co-chief executive officer of SAP AG, said a phone call from Steve Jobs in early 2010 helped convince him to move further into tablet computing as a platform for expansion.

SAP had placed an order for 4,000 Apple Inc. iPads when Jobs called and asked “what are you doing?,” McDermott said during an address at the Churchill Club speaker series in Palo Alto, California yesterday. The order, which was placed before Apple first began shipping the tablets, was so McDermott could give them to sales staff and demonstrate SAP’s business management software.

The conversation helped convince him to invest more in mobile computing and acquire Sybase Inc. for $5.8 billion in May 2010. After running through a checklist of features the iPad lacked, such as the ability to readily print, McDermott said he told Jobs “I don’t care” and proceeded with his plans.

Shortly after speaking with the Apple founder, McDermott called Sybase CEO John Chen and said “We have to get married,” he told the Silicon Valley audience.

Sales for SAP, founded in 1971, are expected to rise 13 percent to 16.1 billion euros ($20 billion) this year, according to the average of 39 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company’s American Depositary Receipts rose 0.1 percent to $65.01 yesterday and have climbed 23 percent this year.

McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe took over as co-CEOs of the Walldorf, Germany-based software company in February 2010, and have used acquisitions and internal research and development to expand in mobile and cloud computing.

“Our user experience hasn’t always been gorgeous,” McDermott said during the talk, which was moderated by the business-book author Geoffrey Moore.

Apple products “have beautiful design,” he said.

Jobs resigned as Apple CEO on Aug. 24, 2011 and died on Oct. 5.

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