Historically, enterprise computing hasn’t been one of Apple’s strong spots. But ever since the introduction of the iPhone and iPad, the company’s presence in the business market has seemed to be almost continuously expanding. Overnight, that presence expanded even further as Apple and IBM announced a joint venture of mobile business apps and services.
“For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in the companies’ joint press release. “This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”
The deal has four major components. First, and arguably most important, the two companies will collaborate on building software – including native iOS apps – for industry-specific tasks. Which industries? Among those mentioned are “retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance,” though the companies say that there will be more. These apps, under the heading of IBM’s MobileFirst brand, will be available beginning this spring, and will be released throughout 2015 as well.
IBM is also bringing to bear its expertise on services, where it will provide “end-to-end” cloud-based solutions for many common enterprise tasks, including analytics, workflow and cloud storage, device management, security and integration. Also under that heading are a private app catalogue, security services for data and transactions and a productivity suite.
The two companies are also teaming up on support, with AppleCare for Enterprise serving IT departments and end users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; on-site service will be provided by IBM. And, finally, IBM will also be selling complete solutions that package iPhones and iPads devices along with setup and management.
Services have been one area in which Apple has often come under fire. Partnering with IBM, whose bread and butter has been enterprise services since it sold off its consumer arm to Lenovo in 2005, is a smart move for Apple, allowing the company to get a strong foothold in the market without having to divert its attention from its core market, consumers.
It seems like a win-win situation for both IBM and Apple, who have been both direct competitors and allies in the technology market over the last three decades. Though the two companies went head-to-head in the early era of the personal computer, they also worked together on the PowerPC platform that powered Macs from 1994 until Apple began its shift to Intel in 2006.
“This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM’s leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services,” said IBM CEO, President, and Chairman Ginni Rometty in the company’s combined statement. “We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without.”