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'SAPple' -- Made from the best stuff on earth?

SAP and Apple. Apple and SAP. A good partnership offers benefits to each party. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. Let’s not forget the key third party not mentioned — cloud applications developers. For developers everywhere, there’s a lot to like.

SAP gets a lot from this union, starting with an express lane to develop its own enterprise apps for the iOS platform, encompassing iPhone and iPad (and perhaps Macs if OS X should eventually be supplanted by iOS). SAP also gets under-the-hood access to Apple’s XCode and Swift languages, a nice pairing with SAP’s own HANA in-memory applications platform and the Fiori UX (user experience) design environment. The real prize, however, is that SAP gets access to the 10 million enthusiastic developers writing for and who have expertise in iOS. That’s a lot of developers with a lot of non-traditional ideas about what apps can do.

Sam Yen, SAP’s chief design officer, is excited about the possibilities. “We’re trying to take the enterprise experience to the next level and capitalize on people using apps on their iPhones at home and the user experience they enjoy from that,” he said. “With our Fiori efforts, we want to optimize for mobile scenarios.”

For its part, Apple gets access to SAP’s global enterprise customer base, currently around 310,000 and an army of applications developers 2.5 million strong. Many of those developers are expected to create a new generation of purpose-built, enterprise-class applications that leverage SAP’s database and server-side power. It’s a huge vote of confidence in iPad and iPhone, both of which have seen sales wane in recent times. If the consumer market for tablets is near the saturation point, that’s likely not so in the enterprise. If a large, multinational corporation is going to equip thousands of in-the-field employees with tablets running custom apps, this partnership (and the similar one Apple struck with IBM in Dec. 2015) may sway the choice among tablets running iOS, Android, or Windows.

But wait, there’s more — a new SDK and a training academy.

The two companies are creating a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK exclusively for iOS. It should provide developers with the tools to build custom iOS apps for iPhone and iPad based on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP’s open platform as a service. Add to that a new SAP Fiori for iOS design language to create apps that, in Yen’s words “look beautiful.”

Finally, expect to see a new SAP Academy for iOS by year’s end to help train developers.

Analysts are bullish. The union is seen as benefiting both companies. Jeffrey Hammond, a Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst who serves development professionals, told me, “This is good news for SAP customers who have struggled through many incarnations of SAP’s mobile strategy.”

What do you think? If your business is an SAP customer, we’d sure like to get your opinion. There’s a comment box just below that’s waiting for your feedback.

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