Apple teams up with app devs to make iPad better for work

iPads are apparently not doing too hot at the moment, and Apple is looking for a way to reverse the drop in sales that's been going on the past six quarters. According to The Wall Street Journal, Cupertino hopes to accomplish that by making its tablets more enticing to businesses. The WSJ also reports the tech juggernaut is working with over 40 unknown enterprise app developers in an initiative that's internally called "mobility partner program" (MPP). The members in the alliance are developing iOS apps for entrepreneurs, such as accounting and digital cash register programs. Apple's also encouraging them to collaborate and create apps that work together. In addition, the partners are expected to send representatives to train Apple's business specialists.

Cupertino told investors about MPP during a call in April, but details are still sparse. Even some of the partners aren't quite sure how the alliance will work, and don't know the identities of the other members. That said, the WSJ report reveals that Apple's long-term goal is to sell app bundles tailored for specific businesses, and that it's trying to get old IBM partners to create iPad apps. The company is also planning to ask carriers -- AT&T and Verizon were specifically mentioned -- to help it sell app bundles in the future.

Despite all the secrecy, the WSJ says the project already helped at least a couple of small business owners. In what could have been early tests for the initiative, Cupertino invited the owner of a skincare company to attend a meeting with some MPP members after a visit to the Apple Store. They ultimately convinced her to switch to a partner's accounting software, which she found more effective than her old bookkeeping method. Another entrepreneur, a restaurant owner in Toronto, was compelled to buy three iPads after a meeting with yet another project partner. He uses those iPads as a digital cash register, and it allows cooks to see new orders instantly and prep food more quickly.