Apple has hired a longtime Hewlett-Packard executive to run sales of its products to large corporations, and he may take on a role involving international sales of the forthcoming Apple Watch.
The Cupertino-based company has hired John Solomon, a former senior VP with HP’s printing and personal systems group. His precise role and title are unclear, though several sources describe it as being central to Apple’s push to boost sales to big companies and government agencies with large technology budgets. Some sources say he may also be involved with international efforts to sell the Apple Watch, specifically in the Asia-Pacific region, though others considered this a less likely possibility.
Reached by email, Solomon declined to comment. An HP spokeswoman confirmed that he had left the company. An Apple spokesman confirmed that Solomon had joined the company, but declined to elaborate on his role or title.
If tapped to take over enterprise efforts, Solomon would constitute a significant hire for a company that hasn’t traditionally made a strong effort in corporate sales. In the past, Apple hasn’t maintained its own direct sales force targeting corporate customers, opting instead to rely on third-party resellers. That changed late last year when it started to staff up for enterprise sales.
The move followed Apple’s agreement last summer to team up with IBM to sell more iPhones and iPads to corporate users. Under the arrangement, IBM agreed to resell Apple devices to its base of corporate customers and to adapt its business applications for the iOS mobile operating system.
While historically Apple has tended to cede the market for corporate desktops and notebooks to companies like HP and Dell, its iPhone and iPad devices have come to dominate corporate mobile environments, especially as BlackBerry has declined. An estimate by Good Technology, a mobile device management company, said Apple’s iPhone accounted for 69 percent of new service activations at corporations in the third quarter of last year. Its iPad accounted for 89 percent of new tablet activations.
Solomon is a 20-year HP veteran who in 2010 was chosen to run that company’s printing and imaging operations in the Asia Pacific region, reporting to Vyomesh “VJ” Joshi, the longtime head of HP’s printing business, once the company’s profit engine.
Since then Solomon has reported directly to some of HP’s most powerful executives. In 2012, after CEO Meg Whitman ordered a sweeping combination of the printing and PC businesses into a single unit, its head, Todd Bradley, picked Solomon to oversee the printer business for the entire Americas region. After Bradley was reassigned, Solomon reported to Executive VP Dion Weisler.
In a pair of significant HP deals that landed on Solomon’s watch, both announced last July, HP said it would supply the U.S. Air Force with computers and printers.
Solomon was reassigned in the wake of another executive reshuffling in August. When he left HP in December his title was general manager of the global consumer printing unit. He joined HP in 1992 after finishing his MBA at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. A native of South Africa, he graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 1987.
Solomon’s departure comes as HP is planning a broad reorganization under which it will split into two companies. HP Inc. will be devoted to selling printers and PCs and headed by Weisler, current head of HP’s printing and PC unit. Whitman will run the other company, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will sell servers, networking gear, software and services to large corporations and governments.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.