Tim Cook: If IBM deal can increase enterprise penetration, it'll shake the walls

During its Q3 2014 conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook elaborated on the recently announced IBM partnership, and as expected it's all about the penetration. While Apple's iPad, for example, has been deployed by 93% of the Global 500, the penetration is only about 20%. That's great breadth, not so great depth. By contrast, Cook pointed out, laptops in general enjoy 60% penetration. If Apple + IBM could drive iPad much greater iPad penetration, the "walls would shake".

That's the opportunity that could result in additional growth for iPad, and perhaps even iPhone. Now that iPad is sold everywhere, and now that iPhone is on all major carriers, including China Mobile, enterprise presents the next level of lowest hanging fruit. And it's an immense level. There are numerous verticals in enterprise, from medical to financial services, entertainment to transportation, and areas within those verticals from marketing to sales, operations to risk assessment. IBM can bring Apple can get into a lot of businesses in a lot of ways. (Add government and education to that as well.)

Cook also mentioned the dedicated apps and services IBM was partnering with Apple to bring into enterprise, and that Apple's new Swift programming language would be used to develop them. Swift itself could, long term, make it easier for enterprises to develop their own apps.

When asked if he was worried about enterprise distribution, which bypasses App Store revenue sharing, would make it less valuable, and if that might cause Apple to change the rules and go after a cut, Cook said "no".

Enterprise distribution exists so that companies can make proprietary apps for their own employees. Those are apps no one outside the company needs or should have access to, and enterprise distribution is how Apple makes that happen. Cook said Apple wants to take the friction out of that process, not create more of it.

IBM and Apple aren't competitors and are hugely complementary. Apple can provide great devices and a great ecosystem and IBM can help them with the go-to-market strategy for enterprise. They both care about the customer experience and about the future of mobile.

In Cook's words, they're a great marriage, and he believes one that could be highly successful, and highly profitable.