Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance

Biggest losers (and winner) in Apple-IBM enterprise alliance

Summary: The surprise move to bring IBM software running on iPads and iPhones into the hallowed halls of corporatedom will hit some competitors hard. But there's also one big winner.


Tim Cook of Apple and Ginni Rometty of IBM jointly announced an alliance aiming to put Apple mobile products with IBM software into the enterprise. IBM will develop apps aimed at vertical markets on iPads and iPhones and sell them to its enterprise customers.

This is significant, as it positions Apple to increase its penetration into the enterprise. This is a focus for Apple, as evidenced by using the term "penetration" several times during the announcement. Apple is obviously planning to have iOS become a serious player in the enterprise with this alliance.

ZDNet's Larry Dignan penned an excellent overview detailing the alliance and its likely ramifications. He lists the companies that should be hit the hardest with IBM and Apple working together to get mobile products into the workplace.

IBM bringing iPads in numbers to the cubicle will hit Microsoft and its Surface effort hard.

My take on the biggest losers with this major alliance is a little different from Dignan's. My view looks at both the companies I believe will be hit hardest by this venture, along with fledgling tech that companies are trying to get into the mobile market.

Samsung: While others feel that Android will be hit hard, I find that hard to define. "Android" isn't a business entity, nor a cohesive association. Samsung is the biggest loser on the Android front, by far.

Samsung pretty much is Android from a numbers perspective, and it has both smartphones and tablets like Apple. It's been trying to wedge the corporate door open for a while with its Knox device management and security software.

The Apple/IBM alliance will directly compete with the effort by Samsung, and may knock the Korean firm out of the cubicle.

Android Wear: Before the announcement, I could see a potential market in the enterprise for wearables appearing as a result of Google's Android Wear initiative. That flew out the window with Apple and iBM cozying up together.

I don't believe that wearables are on either Apple's or IBM's radars, and with Android getting shut out of the enterprise as I think will happen, Android Wear will also find the revolving door shut. A vulnerability of Android Wear is the need for Android devices to propel it forward, and if IBM and Apple are successful in worming into the corporate world Android Wear is effectively shut down in the enterprise.

Microsoft: The company in Redmond is firmly ingrained in the enterprise, and that's not going to change any time soon. Microsoft is not invulnerable on the mobile side, however, and that's where it may be impacted with the new alliance of its competitors.

The big push for the Surface tablet, while sort of appealing to consumers, is also looking to get them in the enterprise. That's Microsoft's biggest strength so it makes sense.

IBM bringing iPads in numbers to the cubicle will hit Microsoft and its Surface effort hard. Every iPad used in the corporate world will be one less Surface tablet that might have been there instead. This could have a big impact on Microsoft's fledgling PC business.

Pen input: Tablets that use pens for input have not been popular in the enterprise. While some vertical markets have adopted them for various reasons, most companies have avoided the pen.

Microsoft has been trying to change that with the Surface Pro 3, with ads showing how good pen input can be. I happen to agree with that, but the vast majority of workers don't. Even when a company has deployed tablets with pens in the past, many tell me they stopped when they realized workers don't use the pens.

That was already a hurdle for Microsoft and penetration of the enterprise with the Surface. It won't help when IBM starts developing apps for the iPad that are optimized for touch input, even if a pen would be better.

Workers don't like to use a pen, and once specific work apps are fully optimized to do without, the pen is history. This will hit Microsoft hard with not only the Surface, but with Windows 8.1.

Biggest winner

Some feel that Apple is the biggest winner in the alliance with IBM. It is certainly a coup, no question. As impactful as the deal will likely be for Apple, I think the corporate world is the big winner.

Having an option to go with iPads sporting IBM software will make it easier for companies to go mobile. That is the biggest tech segment by far and having an option to do it properly is a big deal.

The ability to deploy the iPad in volume should have cost reductions over conventional PCs given the industrial-strength AppleCare that will be in place. Apple's hardware support has a reputation as a very good service. Bringing it to the enterprise will shake things up.

While the enterprise is a big winner with the new alliance, consumers may benefit too. BYOD programs should get better, and perhaps even increase in number given the iPad and IBM connection. There's no word if products from the joint venture will be enterprise only, or if companies might offer purchase options to workers for BYOD.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, IBM, iPhone, iPad, Samsung

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  • Apple-IBM & devs

    James, do you think this alliance will help or hinder devs trying to write business apps for iOS? And if it helps, what sort of market framework and tools might the alliance provide? Thank you.
    • It will help. Look at BlueMix

      It will help. Look at BlueMix ( )
      The idea is to develop in both sides: The client-side and the server-side.
      In the server-side your code should use opensource middlewares, frameworks, APIs and runtimes. All this should be hosted in IBM cloud.
  • I believe things could work out well for the iPad

    I am leaning towards going cross platform. I will probably continue to build WinRT apps, and just port them over to the iPad. If MS is going cross platform, it makes sense for me to do the same, to earn more revenue, and to position myself, should MS lose hold of the enterprise, as I believe it eventually will. As for Windows Phone, I'm not touching that thing with a ten foot pole. With MS' commitment to its Nokia X Android phones, and persistent rumors that Android apps will be incorporated into Windows Phone, it makes no sense to develop for Windows Phone.

    I therefore believe iPad could in fact catch on in the enterprise, and Apple will have a beach head in the way of the iPhone and iPad.
    P. Douglas
    • Xamarin's your friend

      If you do attempt to port to iOS, you'll find there's almost no pattern reuse capabilities with Objective C. It is a very different paradigm, because of the Smalltalk thinking you have to do. You kind of have to design your classes with Objective C in mind.

      Xamarin will actually let you re-use your raw code, albeit just the business logic part.

      I've always thought it made sense to go cross platform. Microsoft has long provided tools on Azure to support backending the other platforms, so it isn't like they even seem to discourage it.
      • The free version Xamarin is useless

        Everything is expensive. Microsoft should acquire Xamarin and give it away to MSDN subscribers free at least.
        Ram U
        • Useless?

          What are you missing from the free version that without it its useless?
          A Gray
          • skill...

            Its so hard to come by...
      • I thought Xamarin would be more helpful

        In my experience, the UI takes up 90+% of my development effort. If this has to be done in Objective C, Xamarin doesn't seem as if it will be of much help. Still, I'll look into the matter. Thank you.
        P. Douglas
        • 90%+?

          Then you're building your UI wrong. You UI should just be pushing events back down to the business layer. You should be able to run your entire application from a command line. If your UI code has anything more than widgets that show data, you need to rethink how to do it.

          Use a presenter pattern or something similar
          A Gray
          • Sorry. Wrong number.

            Sorry. I checked my work. The UI code is about 60%. It just seems like 90+%, because I'm focused on the UI, for what seems like 90+% of the time. Earlier on when I did data conversions, some FORTRAN development, the UI was next to 0% of my work.

            I spend a lot of the time on the UI / UX, because when I do, almost no one comes back to me, to ask me about my apps.
            P. Douglas
          • What I mean ...

            "I spend a lot of the time on the UI / UX, because when I do, almost no one comes back to me, to ask me about my apps."

            What I mean is that very few users come back to me in the way of support questions / complaints.
            P. Douglas
        • Apple's stuff is strictly MVC

          I'm not sure it is possible to work 90% on the UI level, unless you're using an alternative framework like Unity3D (close to necessary for games.)

          Apple's strict MVC model largely keeps you out of the UI, other than working through IBOutlets and IBActions.
    • What do you say now about Windows Phone
      Ram U
      • Thanks, but there is still uncertainty

        Thanks. The news is encouraging. But I continue to hear rumors of Android apps coming to Windows Phone:
        P. Douglas
    • Nope!

      There is a huge threshold for Apple to penetrate the business marketplace.
      First, business does not care how their employees look at Starbucks; they care about functionality ONLY. Buying something that is few hundred extra because it’s cool, or light, or Al, or whatever – does not enter into a business. It’s about how much money will it cost to get the thing in and setup – which we know is HIGH when you use Apple products. An IT department with a FINITE budget would rather pay $500 for an HP or Dell then $1000 or $2000 for the SAME EXACT functionality! Add the cost of – new software, new peripherals, etc – and we run into prohibitive realm.
      Second, as a business, single sourcing yourself is the dumbest thing anyone can do. It’s against purchasing / logistics’ ethos to single source itself. EVERY company I have worked at has a HUGE threshold to accept a single source commodity!! As a small business owner, over the last four years I have moved my company from Dell to Razer Blade 17” to Surface Pros. I always bought what made sense for my business!! Not what some moron in Apple thinks I should I have!! Let’s say I do a switch over to Apple ecosystem – and I do not like what Apple does couple of years from now – what is my recourse?! I have to spend MORE money on all new hardware, software, peripherals, etc – to switch back to WinTel?! To move from Dell to Razer – all I had to do was buy Razers as Dells came to end of life or needed new PCs for new employees; now I am in the middle of switching over to MS Pros. If in the future I do not like MS Pros – I am sure I can find an OEM that meets my needs. NOT the case with Apple. I know a few people that would like to get off Apple crack. But they cannot, because they have bought into the ecosystem.
      It’s one thing when a consumer makes an emotional buy and tie themselves to Apple ecosystem. It may work in the pretty Google-ish world. But in a normal business where budgets are watched and fought over – 99% of the world – Apple is the worst choice one can make.
      • I don't agree with this:

        "Apple is the worst choice one can make."

        This is straight out subjective given the extreme cost of keeping a $500 Dell of HP running with Windows.
        • “extreme cost of … a $500 Dell”?!

          The WHOLE F’ing point is – it’s not extreme!! There are FOUR systems I can buy right now for less than $500 from Dell – that is off their website; it’s cheaper if you have agreements with them.

          If a company has 1000 employees - $500 Dell would cost total of $500,000. While Apple’s cheapest system would cost TWICE as much. Why would any company pay twice as much for the same output?!

          In all honesty, I do not even care about the cost factor. The BIGGEST problem is: even if a company were to accept the increased cost – why the HELL would it back itself into a corner by single sourcing itself?!

          Any one company’s dependency on Apple would be too great!! Why would any company in their right mind PAY MORE for a lopsided dependency – in Apple’s FAVOR?! It does not make any common sense…

          Sky is blue – is not subjective!!
          Apple is more expensive than WinTel ecosystem – FACT
          Apple is the ONLY manufacturer of Apple products – FACT!

          Paying MORE for GREATER RISK is a business NO, NO! Geez man put down the Apple koolAid and THINK!
          • I think the point...

            ...Bruizer was _trying_ to make is that the $500 Dell will have a higher TCO compared to the Apple, in the form increased support, shorter lifespan, etc.

            And while there is a kernel of truth to this - an improperly configured PC and/or insecure network policies can be a bear to administer - it ignores a couple of key points:

            - Support infrastructure for PC-based environments is already a sunk cost to some extent. You won't see an enterprise migrating to Apple and firing 50% of their IT staff. It would take years of demonstrated improvement in performance/reliability before a larger organization is going to be comfortable with the idea of 'cutting off a limb'.

            - The requirements to secure a PC and/or PC-based network are reasonably well-known, there's a decent pool of talent available to do the work, and it's just good practice anyway. Moving to Apple will only trade one type of support issue for another, and at a higher rate because the talent pool is that much smaller.
          • Apple has a bigger problem then just infrastructure or lack of talent pool.

            Technological and infrastructure challenges can be overcome. If there is a threshold of work out there – it will support dedicated labor. However, there are greater issues, as a business, you have to consider.

            I have a small business; we range from 5 to 20 people. Let’s just assume average of 10 people and I want to move over to Apple. Cost of new laptops would be $10k to $20k and new software would be at least $50k. The cost of the laptops is SMALL compared to the cost of new licenses!! Add to that the uncertainty factor of being at Apple’s mercy. They are notorious for changing things on you. Look at what they did to the pro line. The BASE model is THREE THOUSAND Dollars!! And there is absolutely no possibility of upgrading or changes!! How can anyone build a business around that?!

            I have to plan for costs for a year or two years from now – you cannot do that with Apple products. I know if I do not like what Dell is doing, I can move to MS or Razer or HP or Asus or Acer or Samsung!! With Apple, you are stuck with what Apple deems your needs are!! Businesses do not work that way. Just look up the number of articles there are for next iPhone wishes!! cNet had one on the DAY of iPhone 5s announcement!! Businesses do not run on wish lists – they want what they need and want it when they need it.

            If it were not for this single factor, I would have moved over to Apple over 5 years ago. I will be damned though if I let another company tell me how and what to buy – that was the whole reason for starting my own business.