Tim Cook on Apple and Microsoft partnership: 'It's what customers want'

At the BoxWorks conference, the Apple CEO explained why the former foes could gain more by collaborating than by competing.

Close to $50 billion in revenue last quarter. 13 million iPhones sold in a weekend. So how does Apple CEO Tim Cook feel about his company’s record-breaking success?

“We haven’t started yet,” Cook said. The Apple CEO sat down for a fireside chat with Box CEO Aaron Levie at the BoxWorks conference in San Francisco. A more contextual interpretation of that statement could be that Apple hasn’t really started in enterprise, but that’s certainly what’s coming next for the Cupertino-based tech company.

“We’ve always been about making tools,” Cook continued. “For a while, we were bifurcated between consumer and enterprise. But now, you don’t say you want an enterprise smartphone, just like you wouldn’t say you want an enterprise car or an enterprise pen.”

Cook admitted that Apple can’t go into the enterprise market alone, and that partnerships with enterprise software companies were pivotal. The CEO mentioned Apple’s recent partnerships with IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Box as ways to tap into the “deep vertical knowledge” and expertise required to make business-specific apps for different industries.

“If you think back in time, Apple and IBM were foes,” Cook said. “Apple and Microsoft still compete, but we can partner on more things than we compete on. And that’s what customers want. [Apple users] love Office, and they want it to work on Mac better than it works on Windows, and it should.”

During Apple’s last event on September 9, Microsoft presented new Office features for the just-announced iPad Pro.

“I’m not a believer of holding grudges,” Cook continued. “Having as many friends as you can, you can deliver much better solutions, and that's what the enterprise wants us to do. Companies want to partner with other companies that are part of an ecosystem, not on an island by themselves. The island days are gone.”

Cook also noted that today customers are “inherently blending” their personal and work lives together, and that’s why features like Handoff and Continuity were implemented to work seamlessly between Macs, iPhones, iPads and even now the Apple Watch. But this blending of work streams between devices doesn’t mean that Apple will start blending iOS and OS X.

“We have no intention of blending operating systems,” Cook said, adding that to do so would subtract from both.

When Levie asked the Apple CEO why the enterprise market would veer towards using iOS over Android, Cook said point-blank, “Because you want to pick the best product.”

Cook said iOS devices were built with security in mind and are not as fragmented as Android, so it’s easier to get everyone running the same operating system.

Cook also mentioned that Apple’s new iPhone Upgrade Plan was off to an “incredible start,” but would have to wait until the company's earnings report next month to disclose the exact figures.

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