I agree with CCS Insight that Apple already has the building blocks to offer its own business productivity suite built around iWork and iCloud. It seems strange that it hasn’t provided these yet.
Apple’s business services
The analysts at CCS Insight hold an annual predictions event — 2022 & Beyond — and, among a wide selection of interesting future Apple possibilities, state:
“Apple’s services unit has gone from strength to strength in the past few years. In 2Q21, it accounted for over 20% of total revenue and registered 33% annual growth. The unit’s strength gives the company increasing confidence as a web services provider, and it launches a productivity suite, based on iWork and iCloud, as a service aimed at smaller companies that are less well- served by Microsoft and more frequently use Google Workspace.”
What could the service offer?
Take email, for example. Apple’s recent introduction of support for domain-based email within iCloud+ for families could so easily be extended to provide a similar (and private) email service for small business users. A business would then be able to equip staff with email access, and Apple could add the email archiving, management, and search tools businesses need to ensure they maintain all necessary records. Integration would need to be cross-platform, but anyone who has ever set up iCloud mail from inside a Windows system knows it already is.
When it comes to iCloud Drive, why not create a white-box version of the service? This could make use of Apple’s existing MDM solutions and the existing iCloud Drive to offer a company branded, zero-trust, account-only shared 2TB of iCloud storage for use within a company.
Recently introduced iCloud+ features around phishing protection, hidden and single-use email addresses, and protection for Safari privacy become icing on the cake. That you can use storage from other providers all within Drive is a big dollop of cream on top of that icing. Existing online enterprise archives remain in reach.
What about iWork?
Productivity tools? Apple already has them. Pages, Keychain, and Numbers represent perfectly competent alternatives to Google Documents or Office apps, but somehow never seem to have quite caught the zeitgeist. Most people still collaborate on shared documents in Google Docs.
Apple has made iWork apps available in online form via its iCloud portal since 2013, but the implementation is somehow not quite as user friendly as Google Docs. How can Apple at least match what’s offered there with its iWork suite?
One way it might change things up would be by taking those apps out of the online iCloud space to make them more accessible. These apps could (and probably should) be free to use to anyone, but saving work will require an account — like Docs.
What else could Apple provide?
Apple has other ways in which it…