July 15, 2014 Last Updated 4:00 pm

Apple and IBM forge partnership deal around enterprise mobility

This news must make old time Apple customers do a double take: Apple and IBM today announced a partnership deal around enterprise mobility. The deal’s intention is to be bring out “a new class of business apps—bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad,” the companies said.

Thirty years ago, of course, Apple released its famous 1984 commercial, equating IBM with Big Brother. So the jokes and references to that old ad are sure to be a big part of the media coverage around this deal.

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Photo released by IBM as part of its announcement

But those days are long gone, and Apple is not the big guy in the business, with IBM no longer the big, bad giant.

Apple outlined four areas where the companies would cooperate:

  • a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • new AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and
  • new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

“iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today,” Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said in the announcement. “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. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

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. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform. – Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman

The news has to be a bit scary for anyone (read: Microsoft) selling into this space, but the deal makes a lot of sense for both companies. For IBM, it is a way of ensuring that the biggest player in tech is on their side. For Apple, it solves the issue of how to grow this side of its business – something that has proved troublesome over the years.

As part of the deal, IBM will now sell iPhones and iPads to into its side of the market, giving Apple access to a huge sales force. For IBM, what it gets is to continue to control the relationship. No doubt IBM wouldn’t have been thrilled with the idea of Google trying to go after their business (though IBM will still sell Android products to its customers).

Here are the two company’s objectives. as outlined in their announcement (taken straight from the press release, by the way):

  • Mobile solutions that transform business: The companies will collaborate to build IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions—a new class of “made-for-business apps” targeting specific industry issues or opportunities in retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance, among others, that will become available starting this fall and into 2015.
  • Mobile platform: The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS will deliver the services required for an end-to-end enterprise capability, from analytics, workflow and cloud storage, to fleet-scale device management, security and integration. Enhanced mobile management includes a private app catalog, data and transaction security services, and productivity suite for all IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions. In addition to on-premise software solutions, all these services will be available on Bluemix—IBM’s development platform on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.
  • Mobile service and support: AppleCare for Enterprise will provide IT departments and end users with 24/7 assistance from Apple’s award-winning customer support group, with on-site service delivered by IBM.
  • Packaged service offerings: IBM is introducing IBM MobileFirst Supply and Management for device supply, activation and management services for iPhone and iPad, with leasing options.

For more on the deal: check out Re/code’s interview with the CEOs (question, though: when will Apple stop with its policy of only talking to these guys, while giving the cold shoulder to literally 99 percent of the rest of the media world?).

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