IBM and Apple hook up in big partnership “to transform enterprise mobility”

When Enterprise AppsTech reported in January that AirWatch had been acquired by VMware, the suggestion was that something pretty special would have to come along to make a bigger splash in the enterprise mobile space this year.

Now it’s arrived: IBM and Apple have announced a partnership which will ship iPhones and iPads to the enterprise market with IBM apps in an attempt to make iOS the top enterprise operating system.

The specifics of the collaboration, entitled IBM MobileFirst for iOS, include:

  • More than 100 industry-specific enterprise apps for iPhone and iPad
  • IBM services, such as device management, security, analytics and mobile integration, optimised for iOS
  • A new offering, AppleCare, which offers 24/7 enterprise-centric support from Apple customer support and IBM on-site

Speaking to CNBC’s Closing Bell last night, IBM CEO Virginia Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook put together a very pally repartee to explain the deal, which is in effect a no-brainer: both companies are joining together to consolidate each other’s strengths in markets they’ve traditionally struggled in – enterprise for Apple, consumer for IBM. It also gives IBM a reason for selling off part of its hardware biz to Lenovo.

This deal gives IBM a reason for selling off part of its hardware biz to Lenovo

“This is a multi-year journey for us,” Cook said. “We started investing in iOS back in iOS 2, adding enterprise features. But the reality is that the penetration in these businesses, and commercial in general for mobility, is still low.

“I think if we can bring the transformation we’ve arguably brought to consumers to enterprise I think there’s a huge opportunity here”, he added.

“And we knew that we couldn’t do that alone.”

Cook does make a good point here – iOS has been slowly adding more and more enterprise features, with iOS 7 representing a major leap forward for Cupertino. Features such as single-sign-on, increased MDM support and third party app protection represented a maturing effort, with mobility vendor MobileIron noting that 7 kicked off a ‘transformative’ third phase of iOS in the enterprise.

And, dependent on who you believe, iOS is becoming a serious force in today’s workplace. As recently as May, Good Technology found that 72% of device activations in Q114 came from iOS.

“Tim and I talked often about remaking business and reenvisioning, reimagining professions,” said Rometty. “So this is all about unlocking value in the enterprise and value that hasn’t been there to date.”

It’s clear there are benefits for both parties here. But what will the repercussions be?

Abhay Parasnis, president and chief operating officer at mobility provider Kony, said he had doubts over how successful the partnership will be.

“On paper this deal has the appearances of being very synergistic for both companies,” he said, “ however, it will be hard for two companies of this size to dance well together given the complexities of alignment and execution.

“The main issue here is how we, in the industry, can equip customers to have a mobility strategy that is future proof, particularly in a world of multi-operating systems, multi-devices, and multi-platforms,” he added.

Google and Microsoft will also be nervously looking over their shoulders. Google especially is in an interesting position, with the consumer thrust of Samsung devices on Android representing a huge opportunity to migrate to the enterprise market.

It will be hard for two companies this size to dance well together

Yet there’s also Chrome OS to contend with. Ojas Rege, MobileIron VP strategy, told Enterprise AppsTech that even though moving Chrome to enterprise was “certainly possible...but in our world right now Android is absolutely the primary operating system, because it lets the enterprise do the things that the enterprise wants to do.”

Microsoft, the de facto enterprise tech provider, has had to contend with a lot in mobile. Yet there’s a certain laissez faire shrug to workplace use of XP, which passed its final security update in April yet still has many workplaces using it, including the UK and Dutch governments, who handed Redmond a quiet back hander to keep its machines in check.

The biggest losers in this, however, would appear to be BlackBerry, for whom stocks tanked after the Apple-IBM announcement. The Register went as far as printing the postal address of its head office “in case any readers want to send some flowers or bottles of hard liquor”, but ironically enough BlackBerry announced some news of their own last night, in the form of a partnership with in the Connect to Salesforce app.

There’s definitely a sense of partnership among the big players today as opposed to the one-upmanship of the Ballmer and Jobs era, with Office365 on iPad a case in point. With the most popular productivity tools out there on the most popular tablets out there, it all makes for a more effective and exciting workplace.

Put iDevices with built-in IBM apps firmly in this list. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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1 Aug 2014, 12:31 p.m.

This partnership will make new more innovation in the future which will provide more technology to the user