Industry watchers did not see this coming, but they are not totally surprised as Apple and IBM are joining forces to expand mobile products and applications in the enterprise arena. The partnership between former competitors was announced on Tuesday, July 16, and will eventually involve both companies working together to produce almost 100 apps for a wide variety of industries. Some of the applications will be released later in the fall of this year, and it is expected that data analysis tools from IBM will be featured.
It is not the first time that Apple and IBM have teamed up, as three unsuccessful attempts were made in the 1990s, but this time is hopefully different. The growth in the mobile web is undeniable, and studies already suggest that activity in the mobile web space now surpasses that of desktop communications. The press release from Apple states that the relationship is developed to allow delivery of elements that are essential in the mobile enterprise environment, so it does appear that the focus is appropriate.
While pledging to improve security, when work is done with mobile devices, the combined enterprise will collaborate on an IBM MobileFirst solution for iOS powered devices. The product line, to be introduced in the autumn of 2014, will include apps, designed for businesses involved in retail, banking, healthcare, transportation travel and telecommunications.
The combination can indeed be synergistic, as Apple CEO Tim Cook admits that Apple’s strength is in the consumer market and does not focus on corporate customers, while IBM has invested heavily on analytics and now hopes to expand the reach. In a recent interview, Cook described the alliance as a combination of the best of both companies. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was equally effusive. She expects new industries and professions will be developed, as the power that is inherent in the enterprise version of the mobile space is released. By joining forces, IBM and Apple hope to build mobile applications for the iPhone and iPad that do more than check email and appointments, and Cook says that iOS is already used by several Fortune 500 companies.
The combined unit is expected to offer a package that will include supplying and managing devices that support the iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices along with options for leasing. In addition to the IBM MobileFirst Platform for development, support and service will be provided by AppleCare, where IT departments can receive assistance from Apple, and IBM will provide service on-site.
IBM and Apple can hope that the alliance will boost revenues, as concerns about revenue growth have risen among investors. The announcement was made along with the backdrop of the highly anticipated release of Apple’s new iPhone and iWatch. What is even more intriguing is the convergence of two companies that were once bitter rivals. It appears that both companies may have evolved and moved in different paths as IBM is no longer in the PC market. By joining forces with Apple to produce mobile products, the combined units of Apple and IBM, may now be competing with Blackberry, which has always focused on supplying secure mobile solutions for enterprise.
By Dale Davidson