According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Apple has been hiring a number of enterprise sales staff from the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. In the last 18 months, 5 individuals from RIM have jumped ship to join Apple. The move signals a more overt push into the business market, a segment which Apple has traditionally been passive about reaching.

In Apple’s recent earnings conference call, CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed that 80% of Fortune 500 companies are deploying the iPhone or considering doing so. That’s a pretty strong endorsement of the attention that Apple is getting from businesses, and with more focus on the market provided by the recent hires, that number could increase.

RIM and Apple have been engaged in a war of words over the last few months, with Steve Jobs citing iPhone sales beating RIM, and casting doubt on the as yet unreleased smaller 7-inch tablets during the earnings call. RIM CEO Jim Balsillie criticized Apple at the recent Web 2.0 conference, calling Apple’s app strategy unnecessary, saying “you don’t need an App for the web.” RIM also released a video demonstrating its PlayBook tablet besting the iPad in web surfing speed. Of course, you’d need that speed if you don’t have any apps for your platform, wouldn’t you?

Apple and RIM in competition? What is the world coming to? It used to be Apple vs. Microsoft, but now it’s Apple vs. Google and Apple vs. RIM. It’s just a sign of the huge focus Apple has on mobile right now.

Article Via 9to5Mac
Photo Credit: Mustard Faith