Apple and IBM announced yesterday a business partnership which will see the previously rival firms develop mobile devices and applications for corporate use.
Through this deal IBM will sell Apple hardware with pre-loaded services, co-developed by both organisations, and Apple will manage support for the products. As part of the announcement, IBM revealed it will transfer around 150 of its apps over to iOS, and will be available for sale by autumn.
Most of the reports on this surprising alliance have focused on the long-term competition between the two firms. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “A partnership between the two companies would have been unthinkable 30 years ago when Apple famously attacked IBM in an iconic commercial entitled ’1984,’ painting IBM as a big-brother-like figure protecting the status quo while Apple’s Macintosh provided a pathway to freedom.”
However, this new teamwork allows a balance between the corporate software expertise of IBM and Apple’s prowess in consumer hardware. It also marks a significant move by Apple to extend the reach of its iPad and iPhone into a business setting.
“Just as Microsoft was looking like it might get Windows back on track, and BlackBerry was dropping off the map, Apple’s announcement makes one thing clear: the company is not content merely with the consumer world of iPhones, apps, music and iPads,” said Matt Warman at the Telegraph.
It seems therefore that Apple’s main challenge will be to tackle the thus far elusive goal of successfully marketing as both an enterprise and a consumer brand. However, as we are seeing trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) introduced into the workplace, employees are now more than ever expecting the same ease of use in their office as they do at home.
“Apple is not an enterprise company, but that’s not their DNA. It is IBM’s DNA and IBM has had those relationships forever,” added Gartner analyst Van Baker. “It’s an unlikely combination but a very strong one if they can pull it off.”