Salesforce, Apple Pairing for Mobile Enterprise Push

Apple is making yet another run at the enterprise. That could mean quite a lot for business-centric developers and other tech pros who prefer to work with iOS and/or Swift.

This time around, Apple is partnering with Salesforce on mobile software. Specifically, iOS features such as Siri Shortcuts and Business Chat will end up in the Salesforce mobile app, and the two companies will reportedly work together to develop additional apps for specific industries.

That’s not the entirety of the deal. Salesforce and Apple will collaborate to integrate lessons on the Swift programming language into Trailhead, Salesforce’s education hub. There’s also a mobile SDK based on Swift in the works.

“Every single one of our customers is on mobile,” Bret Taylor, president and chief product officer of Salesforce, told TechCrunch. “They all want world-class mobile experiences, and this enables us when we’re talking to a customer about their mobile strategy, that we can be in that conversation together.”

This isn’t Apple’s first big enterprise deal. Back in 2014, Apple and IBM joined forces in a much-touted partnership. Under the terms of that agreement, Apple would design industry-specific native apps, while IBM would push iOS devices loaded with those apps to its various enterprise customers.

“For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned Big Data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a public statement at the time. “This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

In many ways, it was a surprising deal. For decades, Apple and IBM were opponents; in a 1983 keynote address, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs hinted darkly that IBM could “dominate the entire computer industry.” Apple’s iconic “1984” ad, while never mentioning IBM directly, made it clear that Apple was interested in wrecking that particular status quo.

But Apple is no longer the scrappy player looking to overturn the industry; it’s now the big player looking to dominate as many markets as possible. With more businesses turning to mobile apps as a way to manage employees and reach customers, a deal like the Salesforce one was probably inevitable.

What does this mean for developers? If you work at all with the Salesforce platform, and you build iOS apps, you now have a chance to build business software that integrates nifty new features such as Siri Shortcuts. And if you really like Swift, here’s a chance to use it in a business context.