Ignore the naysayers, IBM and Apple were made for each other

Ignore the naysayers, IBM and Apple were made for each other

Summary: It has been a long time coming, but a dream has come true for many in the IT business.

TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, IBM, iPhone, iPad

I for one always thought this day would come, or perhaps it would be truer to say that I hoped it would. IBM and Apple have finally buried the hatchet and decided that life would be sweeter together rather than scoring points of each other.

Yesterday the two companies signed an agreement with the aim of "bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone and iPad". The deal aims to "redefine the way work will get done". It is grandiose stuff and is based on four core capabilities, as the companies said in their joint statement. Among them are:

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

So IBM will be selling Apple systems alongside its own. You may think, 'so what?' and that would be an entirely understandable reaction since we are quite used to different suppliers selling other suppliers stuff.

But for people like me who have grown up in a world where IBM and Apple have, at various times, significant rivals, it's a big change.

They have always been two very different companies. I remember that 30-odd years ago I turned up an IBM demonstration which lasted an hour or two.

At one point I needed to use a toilet and asked directions. The PR man said he would show me where the toilets were. I went into the toilets, the PR man came with me. I used the toilet, the PR man stayed and twiddled his thumbs. Do you have to follow me everywhere, I enquired? Sorry about that, he said, looking sheepish, but yes he did.

That was old-style IBM where rule number one was, "Think" and rule number two was "do not trust anybody, especially if they are press".

Apple, by comparison, had no such qualms. That company would let you go anywhere and see or do anything. At around the same time as I visited IBM I was invited to Hemel Hempstead for a hush-hush off-the-record, briefing with Apple. Myself and another journalist were ushered into an office where we were shown a brand new computer – the Apple Macintosh. It was easily the most brilliantly innovative thing that either of us had ever seen. On the way back on the train the two of us struggled to take in what we had seen and raved about how good the Mac looked.

And now? As I see it, Apple has tightened up to such an extent that it never even talks to the likes of me any more. I have requested various meetings with them and not only do they not grant the meetings they do not even return my phone calls.

IBM, by contrast, could not be more friendly or accommodating. They, I am happy to report, always return my calls.

So IBM has learned to loosen up a bit and Apple has done the opposite. Tim Cook is running the tightest of tight ships as Apple CEO but then he has had good training having previously spent 12 years at IBM where he learnt a lot about what makes a huge IT company tick.

So, the question is, can an Apple/IBM alliance work to the benefit of both companies? My gut feeling is that it should. Apple can learn a lot from IBM about running a very large scale, professional operation good enough to be trusted by any large-scale operation or government.

For its part, Apple has the style and panache that a traditionally strait laced company like IBM can learn from. It's taken them a long time but they've learned from each other and perhaps both companies are better for it.

Read more on Apple and IBM

Topics: Mobility, Apple, IBM, iPhone, iPad


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Really trying hype this

    That's like three articles now for a few apps?
    Buster Friendly
    • A few billion here,

      a few billion there. Nothing to see here. Actually, it's even better than it looks. Apple kept Microsoft chasing its tail with the iWatch, while it snuck in and swiped business customers. Meanwhile, Google has an NVidia chip that replaces the XBox in a tablet format almost ready. Hack, hack, hack at the Microsoft money machine!
      Tony Burzio
      • I hope

        I hope that was meant to be a sarcastic joke about fanboys.
        Buster Friendly
      • I see. It all comes down to your fear of MS

        and the fact that MS took IBM's own business out from under it.

        Oh you ABMer fanbois are an unuaual lot. I wonder what business unit IBM will be selling of next year....

      • An "nVidia" chip that what???

        That is the most ridiculous thing some ignorant idiot can say.

        You do realize that the nVidia Tegra is THE WORST Arm based chip in the market. It took a 4 core Tegra to ALMOST (never did match) a single core A5 and it is currently out performed by even cheap Chinese knockoffs
  • Expensive + Expensive = Overpriced

    Lower cost service vendors are eating IBM's lunch these days. Apple gadgets are way overpriced and under-producive. But...yeah, good move.
    Sean Foley
  • Apple ... let you go anywhere and do anything???

    Maybe 30 years ago they did... today Apple is one of the most secretive companies around.

    IBM claims to have partnerships with everybody... at least on paper I'm sure they do... but they serve only themselves in whatever way it suits them. Apple teams with no one, they are an island unto themselves. Whatever comes of this will go in two totally different directions.
  • Sorry, but it's Apple and Oracle that were made for each other

    Someone in attendance at the Apple and IBM wedding should have strongly objected when asked.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Man!

    You can just smell the devastation in the ranks.
  • Meh!

    If Microsoft and Apple would sign an agreement then that would be a bomb. Microsoft has biggest problem with marketing and some weird designs but their Azure cloud is awesome and development tools are the best. IBM on the other hand.. what exactly do they do? Based on recent news they get government contracts and replace their own experienced people with cheap ones. It seems like a move that makes most sense in the boardroom. IBM needs growth. What do they do? They try to be cool and be friends with Apple.
    Apple also needs growth. Since all consumers are already in their fold they have to expand in enterprise space and so they want to be friends with some enterprise-y company. IBM is a big name so here we go. I do not see anything that these companies have in common except for some superficial goals they are trying to achieve.
    • Apple and MS signed an agreement a long time ago

      So what is your point???
      • His point is ...

        ... that Microsoft is out of this particular loop, and - unlike most Microsoft shills - he realises it's very, very bad news for Microsoft.
        • Heenan73: Take a chill pill, and hope not to choke with it...

          Your only basis for any argument, is your anti-MS stance; plain and simple

          Apple and IBM might be teaming up, but it's mostly because Apple is screaming for some enterprise recognition and IBM is trying to remain relevant in the overall space that includes mobile devices in enterprise shops.

          Apple might have good penetration with its BYOD success, but, it's still not an enterprise player when it comes to services to that sector. IBM is trying to become more relevant in the cloud infrastructure environments, and thus, they needed a partner to try to gain some credibility.

          The partnership has not produced results yet, and might not, so, why the heck are you jumping up and down with glee? Chances are that Microsoft and Google and Amazon and others, already have the types of services that IBM+Apple are going after, but, they're not going to just roll over and let Apple/IBM make any headway.

          So, stop your nonsensical rants, and do try to think for a change, rather than just post your anti-MS crap.
        • BTW, Heenan73: Here's why your completely off-base when it comes to how

          this Apple/IBM deal affects Microsoft....

          "IBM and Apple affect Microsoft somewhat, but if you buy into Satya Nadella's platform and productivity strategy the software giant may be a bit insulated. After all, Microsoft dominates in the enterprise, will make some serious mobile device management headway and has Office running better on iOS than its own Windows."

          You can find that in the article here: http://www.zdnet.com/in-ibm-and-apples-wake-what-will-team-android-do-7000031645/#ftag=RSSaa94ebc
  • Your entire analysis is based on how

    you are personally treated by each respective company? Wow. Ego much?
    • And your entire post is based

      ... on your own personal stupidity. Ignorance much???
  • Proprietary Apps? No Thanks.

    I've said this before, but I still don't understand why an enterprise would want to lock itself into a specific ecosystem by relying on OS-specific apps rather than web-based apps that can be accessed from virtually any device running any OS.

    It makes no business sense.
  • A good start, but it does nothing to improve the quality of iPad components

    Ipads are great for what they were designed for - media consumption. As a job tool however, iPads are 1-year devices. They have a battery rated for 2000 hours and screens rated for 15K touches per quadrant. New devices each year creates a massive headache for IT with IOS version changes creating application issues among many other support issues.
    3 ipads + IT support/management issues + breakage +inefficiency outdoors = Windows devices looking better and cheaper for anyone who wishes to evaluate honestly.

    I'm not a fanboy of anything. The iPad is the greatest leisure device ever invented. I just don't know why you would ever give one to an employee to perform their job.
  • Secret inside info?

    So the question is what is the Apple tax on this arrangement?