The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is making inroads to the vast bureaucracy of General Electric, now with official backing from the massive, PC-dominated company. While GE, like many enterprises, was pretty much forced into offering the iPhone as an alternative to company-issued Blackberries some time ago, my read is that users are not quite so fanatical about their Apple computers as phones. If that's the case, then this could represent the real progress of an honest-to-god legitimate enterprise strategy from Apple. In turn, this might help pivot the company into a more business-friendly posture for all customers, including SMBs.
There have been hints of efforts within Apple to jump-start a corporate strategy for some time now, going back all the way to the roll-out of the Xserve in 2002, but those efforts have been inconsistent and incomplete... possibly the worst sins possible from the enterprise perspective, which prizes certainty and stability. The consumerization factor that has benefited them with the iPhone can't really be counted a part of that effort and in some ways works against their ability to enter corporate IT through more normal channels.
But it's possible that, with the recent leadership change at the company, they are shifting in a more business-friendly direction on some fronts. The last time I was in an Apple store, I got chatted up pretty hard by their new business support team. Since support has been one of the primary drawbacks for business users of Apple products, that effort, if sustained, represents a major shift. Is that what GE is seeing?
It's not entirely clear to me that this is in Apple's best interest overall. The company has an excellent focus on consumer products and a proven track record of delivering products that people want. There are compromises inherent in operating in the corporate environment that could serve to dull that focus. Admittedly, the real danger probably lies in the opposite direction: consumer-orientation will likely continue to cripple enterprise-oriented features and services. Still, the guerrilla strategy that has served to put the iPhone into most corporate offerings could work the same magic with iPads and computers, given enough time.