IBM, Apple forge enterprise app pact: Watson, meet iPad

IBM, Apple forge enterprise app pact: Watson, meet iPad

Summary: Apple gets a big leg up in the enterprise courtesy of IBM's vast army. IBM gets to show off its analytics and industry specific apps running exclusively on iOS.

ginni and tim
It's safe to say Apple gets the enterprise (and the profits involved) now. Ginni Rometty and Tim Cook create a win-win pact.

IBM and Apple said they have forged an enterprise pact where the two companies will collaborate on exclusive industry-specific applications built on iOS.

Apple maintains enterprise dominance; Windows Phone lags

IBM rolls out MobileFirst, eyes role as enterprise mobility enabler

Apple boasts enterprise sweet spot for the iPad

The deal makes sense on many fronts. First, industry-specific apps will lock down Apple's iOS market share in the enterprise. Apple's iOS market share vs. Android in the enterprise is the inverse of the consumer space. IBM gets to package iOS apps, embed its analytics tools, and then use its services and channel to sprinkle the apps into corporations.

And here's another win-win: Apple gets a key enterprise partner without having to exclusively build and market to corporations. IBM gets Apple's cool factor. In other words, consumerization will only go so far for Apple's enterprise ambitions. Apple CEO Tim Cook gets the enterprise and is an IBM alum.


The details of the deal---dubbed IBM MobileFirst for iOS---break down like this:

  • Apple and IBM will create more than 100 vertical-focused enterprise apps built only for the iPhone and iPad. Target markets include retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance starting in the fall.

  • IBM's cloud services such as device management, security and analytics will be optimized for iOS. Private app catalogs and productivity suites will be available. Services will be available on IBM's Bluemix development platform.

  • AppleCare will be tailored for enterprise deployments with support on-site via IBM.

  • There's a commitment to use IBM's Fiberlink MaaS360 for mobile device management. 

  • Apple is standardizing on IBM's analytics and big data apps. 

  • IBM will package device activation, supply and management for the iOS partnership. IBM will also sell industry-focused iPhones and iPads as a bundle.

  • Big Blue's 100,000 consultants will push Apple wares in the field.

  • And finally, IBM's financing arm will be in on the deal.

Cook said:

"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."

The market opportunity reference is critical. Apple has been knocked for lack of an iTV or iWatch (at least for now), but if it mines the enterprise better it'll keep the cash cow going for years.

On the IBM side of the equation, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said the alliance will transform "the way people work, industries operate and companies perform."

Bottom line: The pact between IBM and Apple give both parties credibility and likely sales wins.

Forrester analyst Frank Gillett cheered the deal:

The Apple IBM partnership is a landmark agreement. Given IBM’s market strength and coverage, this partnership gives Apple enterprise capabilities and credibility at one stroke -- and gives IBM a premium advantage in the race for mobile enterprise leadership. Look for Google and leading enterprise suppliers to seek partnerships that offer a credible alternative.

Winners and losers

IBM buys virtual assistant maker Cognea to give Watson personality from 'suit and tie to kid next door'

IBM aims to speed up enterprise app development

Clearly, Apple is the biggest winner of the bunch, but IBM also gets its device management software into the flow. IBM has been investing heavily in mobility, specifically mobile commerce. Apple gives IBM consumerization cred.

And now for those losers:

  1. Android. Android has a ragtag band of partners in the enterprise, an operating system that has taken security knocks, and multiple versions that make the platform hard to manage. There's a reason iOS leads in enterprise market share. Gillett's point that Google will need partnerships is well taken. The problem is that it's going to be hard to match IBM's coverage in one stroke.

  2. Samsung. Samsung's business-to-business unit has been the biggest champion of Android in the enterprise. An IBM exclusive with iOS basically locks out Android in the industry-specific application department.

  3. SAP and Oracle. Both enterprise software giants have been pushing their apps in corporations with a focus on industries they dominate. For companies thinking mobile first, IBM just plowed its way into the conversation.

  4. Microsoft. The software giant's biggest play was to get Windows shops — and there are a ton of them in the enterprise — to go with Microsoft on the mobile front too. IBM and iOS will derail those plans somewhat, but not entirely. Microsoft's mobile device management and collaboration platform will be strong.

  5. BlackBerry. BlackBerry is caught in the middle of an iOS and Android enterprise war. That position is going to hurt.


Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, IBM, Mobility

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  • A pretty smart thing for Apple to do, I think

    Makes more sense than trying to build up all that Enterprise expertise themselves, and getting an analytics engine in the bargain doesn't hurt either.

    Yes, IBM does get a big dose of cool out of this.

    I don't think it really hurts anyone else, though. Android is already primarily a BYOD entrant, rather than an official on-prem device, so they're not even much hurt by this.
    • Does it hurt Microsoft?

      I agree about Android but does this have any effect on Microsoft's mobile enterprise aspirations?
      • good headline

        but msft has deals with sap, critx, saleforece etc. msft is still weak in mobile in enterprise, and enterprise are still pc is even more rapid numbers.
      • Re: Does it hurt Microsoft?

        I don't see how it can do anything but hurt Microsoft in the mobile enterprise market. The Surface really isn't in the same niche as iOS devices, and is more of a competitor with traditional Windows devices.

        InformationWeek's take:

        "Microsoft has failed for the past seven years to offer its enterprise constituency a competitive alternative to the iPhone and iPad. Though it has begun to recover, its progress in the mobile market remains slow.

        If Apple and IBM can conquer enterprise mobility in the next few years, it may seem like a bloodless coup in retrospect. By then, the casualties will have been forgotten: Microsoft is expected to announce layoffs later this week."
        • Seriously?

          What does iPad offer for business? Games? Come on, get real. I have been with my Comapny for over 20 years. Thinsg come and go, change is the norm. They tried iPad two years ago for all the executives and managers.... Now, they are all on Surface Pro's! Why? iPad is NOT FOPR THE ENTERPRISE, neither is iPhone. As for IBM, they are simply a dying old Company trying to compete in a whole new era. There is NOTHING threatening about this alliance other than comic relief. Quoting Information Week doesn't do much for your position either, that's like quoting Gartner - who has a probability of being wrong about 99.999% of the time. The layoffs for Microsoft are expected because they took on way too much headcount from the Nokia deal. IBM cannot compete with Microsoft in the cloud - not even close and Apple cannot compete with them in the enterprise - again not even close. You are simply spitting in the wind if you think otherwise.
          • Seriously? What does the iPad offer for Business?

            5 years ago, lots of people would agree. Today, we have Medical and healthcare applications that allow charts and medical records to roam around without being lost. We have executives who keep track of schedule and e-mail and presentations where ever they go. They can review and edit documents and authorize operations with more mobility then ever before. We have financial applications and sales applications and order taking applications at all levels of commerce that didn't exist before.

            Security? For the iPad and iMac and iPhone there is as much capability to secure information as there is with any competing platform, and more so then many others.

            I think that the key to using Tablets in the enterprise (Like Any piece of technology) is the evaluation of the BUSINESS NEED. If you say to me you don't see any need in your business for any tablet, then I reply to you that you have not done enough business analysis of your general operations. Determining the risk/cost/advantage without going through the discovery exercise means you are driving down the road, looking in the rear view mirror.

            After 40 years in Telephony and ITSM, I can say that we all can suffer from that. But we have to look ahead, even if the windshield is cloudy.
          • I disagree

            I see no area that iPad and iPhone have an advantage in the enterprise over a Windows ecosystem (devices and services). Simply put, there are none. Hence you assume every company out there will be using iPads and iPhones to perform large data analytics (as announced)? Oh please... I don't think so. We have three hospitals in our area, they all use Microsoft devices and software to drive their business "healthcare apps" apps. For every company or every business segment you can name that uses iPads and iPhones to drive business apps, I can name 20-30 of the same that use Windows for the same purpose. Microsoft's developer tools for business and for that matter overall are superior and their technology and products are superior. I'll take anything form Microsoft over an overpriced "i" device or a fragmented Android device - no matter how many apps I don't have!! Nice try but you can join S-Deemer and spit in the wind. This deal is nothing but fluff and will not amount to anything substantial. Heck I don't even think they'll eat into Blackberry's business share. Its just IBM's desperation to make itself relevenat in cloud - which the are way far behind on and Apple's attempt to breach the enterprise, again desperation because no one uses them for this purpose and no one will.
          • You're

            Modern " Rip Van Winkle " LOL
          • You Fail !!!!!!

            I Can Understand You're So Desperate to Defend MSFT's Business.
            But You're So Ignorant and Obsolete about How i-OS Devices ( Especially i-Pad in This Case ) Have Been Already Integrated in REAL BUSINESS WORLD.

            Your Point of View LAGGED Behind More Than 5 Years ! AMEN.
  • Tablets

    Good thing tablets are a passing fad and only good for fart apps.

    Or at least that's what our resident 'experts' here in the talkback section have been saying.

    I wonder, perhaps they are WRONG? hmmmm....

    After all, IBM is a no-name company, aren't they?

    • It's time...

      For Owl:Net to crawl out from under his cave and make a pronouncement.
    • Yes

      No doubt the tablet fart apps will be better than ever. However what I really look forward to is the fighting between Siri and Watson. Can you image them fighting over directions in the horrible apple maps? -- hilarious :)
      Sean Foley
      • Care to detail EXACTLY what is wrong with Apple Maps?

        In particular what is wrong with Apple Maps that is no wrong with other platforms?
        Troll: confirmed
        Speaking based on internet memes instead of facts: confirmed
        Not knowing what you're talking about: confirmed
  • They finally did it....

    Apple and IBM - who'd a thunk it? Does this hurt Android? Of course it does - it severely limits its growth potential in the enterprise market, which was not all that great to begin with. And it will significantly accelerate Apple's iOS market share growth.

    Before now there was no way Apple could move into enterprise in competition with the big boys who have been in the business for decades. Which is one reason they never tried. What inroads they've made with iOS devices they managed without really trying. Their customers have done the job for them. Now, though, with IBM as a partner, their enterprise horizons are almost unlimited. Bravo for Tim Cook. Apple is truly his company now.

    As for Microsoft, they certainly have an important share of enterprise business - but not in mobile. Their mobil aspirations are bound to take a hit here. IBM and Apple will both grow in stature, status and clout.
    • It is possible for MS to keep iOS and Android at bay

      Things are not so simple. Windows is a far richer operating system compared to iOS, capable of supporting much richer apps. I can assure you, businesses want rich apps, vs. the relatively simple apps which can be produced on iOS and Android. If MS can get rich WinRT apps off the ground quickly, then it should be able to keep iOS and Android out of the enterprise, then make significant encroachments in the consumer market. I'm just hoping MS' insistence on supporting iOS and Android with Office and device management software, doesn't bite them in the posterior, resulting in its competitors gaining traction in the enterprise.
      P. Douglas
      • WinRT apps are no threat to iOS

        They make iOS's mistake of being too non-powerful. Furthermore, no data API (oData requires remote access whereas everyone else can work with local stores.)

        Windows firepower lives where it has always lived: win32.
        • WinRT isn't so bad

          The WinRT APIs aren't that bad. So far I've only missed the flexibility to print on custom sized media. Functionality has been moved around old and new namespaces, but a lot of what is needed to build business apps is there. I use a SQLite file as a local data store in my app, and that works fine. I interact with the SQLite database via LINQ, and that works fine. General file manipulation is also fine as well.

          My main concern is that MS takes steps to support the economic foundation of apps by providing a Pro app store with minimum price controls, as well as allow Windows 8 apps to be downloaded directly from various online stores around the web, at optionally varying price points - just like Windows desktop apps. Also I believe MS should allow apps to be subscribed to, and be made available to the entire Windows ecosystem via virtualization, and maybe via native support on Windows 7.
          P. Douglas
          • I have to say

            I am impressed all to heck with SQLite... just recently started using it.
      • It doesn't take rich iOS applications, all it really takes ...

        ... are good client-server tools from IBM ported to iOS.
        M Wagner
      • MS needs more people like you...not

        It is MSes very "Windows everywhere" paradigm that got them into this pickle in the first place. Apple realised you cannot have a unified OS (initially anyway) for all devices...there are too many compromises that in the end get in the way of the usability of the devices. Rarely can a market be won by putting in a complicated buggy product when the market in the early stages requires simplicity. The smartphone/tablet market will need more and more sophisticated features...but the OS needs to match the features as the market needs short...Windows is too complicated and too buggy and too slow for the smartphone/tablet market as it is at the moment.