Susan Maus, an online-marketing consultant, arrived at the rendezvous at an Apple store in Minneapolis at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 13. Guests including Maus were escorted across the empty sales floor, down a hallway, up an unmarked elevator and into a conference room. For 90 minutes, Apple representatives talked with Maus and a dozen other consultants and shop owners about how the company's computing products could improve their businesses. The attendees played with iPads to check out various business applications, including one that runs presentations on a plasma screen.
"It was pretty slick," Maus said. "They're really reaching out to businesses now."
The hush-hush strategy reflects a recent shift for Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, who has said no company can focus on consumers and corporate customers at the same time. Jobs stumbled in efforts before to target businesses, including with the Lisa PC in the early 1980s and the NeXT computer he developed in the early 1990s during his time away from Apple.
But with more business people attracted to iPads and iPhones, Cupertino's Apple has been able to grab a share of corporate information-technology budgets