It looks like the SAP “pre Sapphire leak announcement” tradition that broke 2 years ago is alive and well – today Apple announced a partnership with SAP. It’s not clear what may have motivated Apple to push on the gas pedal in regards of the timeline, apart from the known slowing of iPad Sales and more recently iPhone Sales. With 13 days to Sapphire, there are a number of selling days in the quarter left... 

So let’s pick apart the press release in our customary style – it can be found here:
CUPERTINO, California and WALLDORF, Germany — May 5, 2016 — Apple® and SAP today announced a partnership to revolutionize the mobile work experience for enterprise customers of all sizes, combining powerful native apps for iPhone® and iPad® with the cutting-edge capabilities of the SAP HANA platform. This joint effort will also deliver a new iOS software development kit (SDK) and training academy so that developers, partners and customers can easily build native iOS apps tailored to their business needs.
MyPOV _ Great introductory paragraph that summarizes the scope well – native apps for iPhone and iPad, a new iOS SDK to run on SAP HANA platform (why not SAP HANA Cloud Platform – HCP – as mentioned later?), and good reference to training (that is often forgotten in partnerships like these).
“This partnership will transform how iPhone and iPad are used in enterprise by bringing together the innovation and security of iOS with SAP’s deep expertise in business software,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “As the leader in enterprise software and with 76% of business transactions touching an SAP system, SAP is the ideal partner to help us truly transform how businesses around the world are run on iPhone and iPad. Through the new SDK, we’re empowering SAP’s more than 2.5 million developers to build powerful native apps that fully leverage SAP HANA Cloud Platform and tap into the incredible capabilities that only iOS devices can deliver.”
MyPOV – Good quote from Cook, of course the partnership makes sense, but it is not clear what makes this partnership special. SAP could have (and has) built on iOS (natively) before. Would be good to learn what the ‘incredible capabilities that only iOS can deliver’ are. But let’s read on.
“We’re proud to take this special partnership between Apple and SAP to a groundbreaking new place,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. “In giving people an agile and intuitive business experience, we empower them to know more, care more and do more. By combining the powerful capabilities of SAP HANA Cloud Platform and SAP S/4HANA, together with iOS, the leading and most secure mobile platform for enterprise, we will help deliver live data to people wherever and whenever they choose to work. Apple and SAP share a commitment to shaping the future, helping the world run better and improving people’s lives.”
MyPOV – Good quote of McDermott – though it is not clear what SAP will deliver, new capabilities on SAP HANA Cloud Platform – as mentioned before – and or native apps for S/4HANA. The question is of course – what about the existing applications etc. And interesting that McDermott gives iOS the ‘most secure mobile platform for the enterprise’ badge – without justification. But I guess both CEOs / press teams agreed on the CEOs complimenting each other.
The companies plan to deliver a new SAP HANA Cloud Platform SDK exclusively for iOS that will provide businesses, designers and developers the tools to quickly and efficiently build their own iOS apps for iPhone and iPad, based on SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP’s open platform as a service. These native apps will provide access to core data and business processes on SAP S/4HANA, while taking full advantage of iPhone and iPad features like Touch ID®, Location Services and Notifications.
MyPOV – Always good to see SAP talk HCP, a product that in my view has not gotten the attention, keynote time, marketing spend etc. that it deserves, as it is vital for both customers and SAP to e.g. create partnerships like this and build innovative next generation applications. Without a good competitive platform SAP won’t be able to do well in enterprise software. So it is good to see HCP mentioned by McDermott twice (!) in one paragraph. And now we learn that S/4HANA processes (APIs?) will be exposed in the SDK, good to know / understand. The question is of course – what happens with all the other SAP applications.
A new SAP Fiori for iOS design language will take the award-winning SAP Fiori user experience to the next level by combining it with a consumer-grade iOS experience to deliver on the robust user needs in the enterprise and enable developers to build next-generation apps. To help SAP’s 2.5-million member global developer community take full advantage of the new SDK and Apple’s innovative hardware and software, a new SAP Academy for iOS will offer tools and training. The new SDK, design language and academy will begin rolling out before the end of the year.
MyPOV – Good to see Fiori in the mix, as it should guarantee a high level of UI consistency for SAP users. As much as we live in the ‘mobile first’ world – users are still using browsers (or an iPad) with a different form factor and deserve an ‘as consistent as possible’ user experience. Why it requires a ‘new’ Fiori design language is something we need to understand better… new is good – but more languages also add complexity. Maybe not so close to the 'simple' SAP likes to stress. And as developers could build iOS apps today, why is a new SDK needed? And good to see the know-how dissemination efforts.
As a part of the partnership, SAP will develop native iOS apps for critical business operations. These apps for iPhone and iPad will be built with Swift™, Apple’s modern, secure and interactive programming language, and will offer a familiar user experience with the SAP Fiori for iOS design language. Workers across industries will be empowered to access the critical enterprise data, processes and user experience they need to make decisions and take action right from their iPhone or iPad through apps designed to enable a field maintenance worker to order parts or schedule service, or a doctor to share the latest patient data with other healthcare professionals.
MyPOV – The Swift endorsement is a key win for Apple, but does not bide too well for developer productivity in the likely scenario of building cross mobile OS applications. [Update May 9th 2016 - Apple points out correctly that it has open sources Swift and there are initiatives by 3rd parties on the way to address cross platform support of Swift. And certainy Swift is the most efficient platform for iOS apps today.]. How will a developer build an Android, Windows 10 etc. application working in HCP? Maybe the new Fiori SDK language will address this, though no data to support this in this press release (and I lack the technical ingenuity at this point to figure out if this would work). But in the age of e.g. Google and Microsoft enabling mobile developers to create cross platform applications (see my event reports from Google Cloud Platform here and of Microsoft Build here) this is a step back for SAP developers, and a win for the Apple proprietary, ‘walled garden’ approach to build ecosystems.  [Update May 9th 2016 - Apple correctly points out that if they 3rd party initiatives come to fruition, they would definitively make the 'walled garden' metaphor invalid. Agreed.]
As market leader in enterprise application software, SAP helps companies of all sizes and industries run better. From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable approximately 310,000 business and public sector customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit 
Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.
MyPOV – No need to comment on the boilerplate closing paragraphs of both SAP and Apple.

Overall MyPOV

A good move by Apple and SAP to partner, the question is really, what took both sides so long, almost two years longer than the Apple and IBM partnership. But then Swift was not around – so coming to it late may not be too bad for SAP. With SAP’s market share it makes sense for Apple to partner with the leading enterprise application vendor, but both will have to work hard to get a level of differentiation that justifies the premium prices that Apple hardware commands. And that’s a good hurdle, as premium hardware deserves premium software. The new Fiori SDK may well point in that direction – we will see how good and well the new joint application will do and how much of unique Apple ecosystem feature they will embody ([May 9th 2016 - Factually corrected to official Apple product names;] the Apple 3D Touch, Apple Touch ID, Apple Pay etc come to mind)..

Surprisingly, the announcement is void of details on the go to market side. The press quotes no revenue share between the two vendors. Compared to the similar press release Apple did in July 2014 with IBM (see here), we don’t hear / see / read anything on the services / support side. No mention of marketing / sales either. Where will joint customers get their applications from? The Apple Store? Their own branded Apple Store? Their own branded SAP store? From the app developer? So there are some questions that Apple and SAP will have to answer soon. Also of note, Apple partnered as well with Cisco (see here) late summer 2015, but we have not seen heard much about progress on this partnership. That announcement was also weaker on go to market than the original 'Apple comes to the enterprise' than the one with IBM, so we will have to see how the partnership will pan out going forward. 

On the concern side - it looks like Apple and SAP may have missed what Facebook, Google and Microsoft recently announced in regards of chat and conversational bots coming to your smartphone. So building 'another' 100 (why is it always 100?) mobile apps may miss the boat on where mobile usage is going. An Apple / SAP partnership bringing S/4HANA (and other systems) capabilities to iMessage would have been in synch with the announcement wave of spring of 2016. But only what has not happened can still happen and Apple / SAP may have left an arrow back there, with Sapphire looming. And fair enough, the whole conversation / chat bot - Conversation as a Platform as Microsoft calls it is in its infancy... but then - if working - would disrupt the whole apps ecosystem. Something that Apple surely does not want, something that SAP is more open to, as it needs to build mobile endpoints that are popular and expected by its customers. 

What is good to see is the support of HCP, which becomes more and more strategic for SAP with every quarter. Understanding what value SAP can bring to the existing, pre S/4HANA applications will be important for customers as well as for the success of the partnership, as for now – despite ambitions plans for S/4HANA – the bulk of SAP users are and will remain for the foreseeable future on the pre S/4HANA SAP applications. And that’s where the partnership needs to play for the next years to yield the device sales that Apple is hoping to get from this partnership. I expect a lot of SAP customers sitting on 2 more device refresh cycles (assuming a 2 year mobile device refresh cycle) before they will move to S4/HANA en masse. We will be watching – we will likely learn more at Sapphire in Orlando in a few weeks.

More on SAP:
  • Progress Report - SAP SuccessFactors makes good progress - now needs appeal beyond SAP - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP HANA Vora now available... - A key milestone for SAP - read here
  • Event Report - SAP Ariba Live - Make Procurement Cool Again - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors innovates in Performance Management with continuous feedback powered by 1 to 1s  - read here
  • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Good Progress sprinkled with innovative ideas and challenging the status quo - read here
  • News Analysis - WorkForce Software Announces Global Reseller Agreement with SAP - read here
  • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Day #1 Keynote Top 3 Takeaways - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP SuccessFactors introduces Next Generation of HCM software - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP delivers next release of SAP HANA - SPS 10 - Ready for BigData and IoT - read here
  • Event Report - SAP Sapphire - Top 3 Positives and Concerns - read here
  • First Take - Bernd Leukert and Steve Singh Day #2 Keynote - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP and IBM join forces ... read here
  • First Take - SAP Sapphire Bill McDermott Day #1 Keynote - read here
  • In Depth - S/4HANA qualities as presented by Plattner - play for play - read here
  • First Take - SAP Cloud for Planning - the next spreadsheet killer is off to a good start - read here
  • Progress Report - SAP HCM makes progress and consolidates - a lot of moving parts - read here
  • First Take - SAP launches S/4HANA - The good, the challenge and the concern - read here
  • First Take - SAP's IoT strategy becomes clearer - read here
  • SAP appoints a CTO - some musings - read here
  • Event Report - SAP's SAPtd - (Finally) more talk on PaaS, good progress and aligning with IBM and Oracle - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP and IBM partner for cloud success - good news - read here
  • Market Move - SAP strikes again - this time it is Concur and the spend into spend management - read here
  • Event Report - SAP SuccessFactors picks up speed - but there remains work to be done - read here
  • First Take - SAP SuccessFactors SuccessConnect - Top 3 Takeaways Day 1 Keynote - read here.
  • Event Report - Sapphire - SAP finds its (unique) path to cloud - read here
  • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP becomes more about applications - again - read here
  • Market Move - SAP acquires Fieldglass - off to the contingent workforce - early move or reaction? Read here.
  • SAP's startup program keep rolling – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired KXEN? Getting serious about Analytics – read here.
  • SAP steamlines organization further – the Danes are leaving – read here.
  • Reading between the lines… SAP Q2 Earnings – cloudy with potential structural changes – read here.
  • SAP wants to be a technology company, really – read here
  • Why SAP acquired hybris software – read here.
  • SAP gets serious about the cloud – organizationally – read here.
  • Taking stock – what SAP answered and it didn’t answer this Sapphire [2013] – read here.
  • Act III & Final Day – A tale of two conference – Sapphire & SuiteWorld13 – read here.
  • The middle day – 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
  • A tale of 2 keynotes and press releases – Sapphire & SuiteWorld – read here.
  • What I would like SAP to address this Sapphire – read here.
  • Why 3rd party maintenance is key to SAP’s and Oracle’s success – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired Camillion – read here.
  • Why SAP acquired SmartOps – read here.
  • Next in your mall – SAP and Oracle? Read here
And more about SAP technology:
  • Event Prieview - SAP TechEd 2015 - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP Unveils New Cloud Platform Services and In-Memory Innovation on Hadoop to Accelerate Digital Transformation – A key milestone for SAP read here
  • HANA Cloud Platform - Revisited - Improvements ahead and turning into a real PaaS - read here
  • News Analysis - SAP commits to CloudFoundry and OpenSource - key steps - but what is the direction? - Read here.
  • News Analysis - SAP moves Ariba Spend Visibility to HANA - Interesting first step in a long journey - read here
  • Launch Report - When BW 7.4 meets HANA it is like 2 + 2 = 5 - but is 5 enough - read here
  • Event Report - BI 2014 and HANA 2014 takeaways - it is all about HANA and Lumira - but is that enough? Read here.
  • News Analysis – SAP slices and dices into more Cloud, and of course more HANA – read here.
  • SAP gets serious about open source and courts developers – about time – read here.
  • My top 3 takeaways from the SAP TechEd keynote – read here.
  • SAP discovers elasticity for HANA – kind of – read here.
  • Can HANA Cloud be elastic? Tough – read here.
  • SAP’s Cloud plans get more cloudy – read here.
  • HANA Enterprise Cloud helps SAP discover the cloud (benefits) – read here.
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here