Apple is working with Box and a bunch of other companies to get the iPad into businesses

Obama computer iPadREUTERS/Kevin LamarqueU.S. President Barack Obama holds up an Apple iPad during a visit to Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland February 4, 2014.

Apple’s iPad sales may be down 23% from this time last year, but the tablet still has a bright future ahead of it in the workplace, Apple CFO Luca Maestri insisted on today’s quarterly earnings conference call.

Apple is working with outside companies like Box, DocuSign, and ServiceMax to build more business apps for the iPad, Maestri says — a very un-Apple-like move, and one that shows how much the Cupertino company is taking these shrinking iPad sales seriously.

In an email, Box CEO Aaron Levie told us, “Innovation in IT is driving innovation in business, and nowhere is this more apparent than in enterprise adoption of iPhones and iPads, which are spurring all-new mobile use cases across verticals like healthcare, retail and financial services. We couldn’t be more excited to power the next phase of business transformation with Apple, the company that ignited the post-PC revolution.”

Maestri said that businesses were turning to iPad to change how people did work. He also shouted out Apple’s continuing enterprise partnership with IBM, which he says focuses largely on iPad.

While tablets like the iPad never hit the mainstream with the same impact as the iPhone, businesses are drawn to the smaller, lighter form factor. And despite everything, “tablet” is still more or less synonymous with “iPad” to the larger public.

To that end, Maestri cited a study that said 77% of all businesses thinking about buying tablets are mainly considering iPads.

Sales reps, maintenance workers, and any other kind of mobile worker have found their own success stories with the iPad, and Apple wants to keep that train going with more specialised solutions that it’s building with those partners — especially as consumer interest seems to be waning.

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