Apple looks to conquer the enterprise, inks deal with IBM to take on BlackBerry

Apple has struck a 'landmark' mobility deal with IBM to produce business-focussed apps for iPads and iPhones.

Arti Singh July 16, 2014 12:20:38 IST
Apple looks to conquer the enterprise, inks deal with IBM to take on BlackBerry
Apple looks to conquer the enterprise inks deal with IBM to take on BlackBerry

Tim Cook, Apple CEO and Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO forge deal to transform enterprise mobility

After consumer devices, Apple is now turning its focus on the money-generating corporate space. The U.S. tech giant has struck a "landmark" mobility deal with IBM to produce business-focussed apps for iPads and iPhones.

The deal -- which is seen as a big threat to BlackBerry, which is on the road to recovery -- will marry IBM's cloud computing, big data and analytics capabilities with Apple's iPhones and iPads.

The partnership aims to "redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change,'' the companies said in a joint statement.

Commenting on the deal, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "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."

According to Apple, the companies are working on more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions for Apple iOS platform.

IBM will create unique cloud services optimised for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. The deal will also see IBM selling Apple devices to its business clients.

Apple will roll out new AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and new packaged offerings from IBM will support device activation, supply and management.

"This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services," Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO added.

"Apple has been dragged into the enterprise by individuals that want the same mobile convenience on the job that they use in their personal lives - but has resisted servicing enterprises for fear of losing its famed focus on top quality user experience. But rise of the mobile mind shift, the expectation of solving problems on the go from a mobile device, has compelled Apple to partner with IBM to address enterprise needs fully," Frank Gillett, analyst at Forrester Research, said.

"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," Gillet added.

On the other hand, Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies noted, "The deal is significant for several reasons. Apple devices are widely used by business people, but the company has thus far been a "renegade" in the corporate world that slips in the back door with little regard for the needs of IT staff."

He further added, "If IBM can come in and say, 'We'll make sure this Apple stuff works well with the other stuff you've got already,' it will make the IT guy feel a lot better."

However, Jack Gold, president of J. Gold Associates, doesn't see the deal as a "landmark" one and he claims that IBM has forged such deals before, notably with BlackBerry and the former Palm Inc.

The deal is expected to snatch away more market share from BlackBerry in the enterprise segment. For years, businesses relied heavily on BlackBerry products, but lately most of the large corporations have turned to iOS as well as Android smartphones. Also, business uncertainty tarnished the Canadian company's reputation as corporate clients increasingly started switching to other operating platforms.

In-fact, Tim Cook said over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 are using iOS devices in their business.

Blackberry, however, has sought to raise doubts over the security issues that could come with using iOS devices.

"BlackBerry is the clear leader in this market, with the most secure devices, software, servers and network that enable enterprises to be confident that their data is protected from end to end. Enterprises should think twice about relying on any solution built on the foundation of a consumer technology that lacks the proven security benefits that BlackBerry has always delivered," the company said in a statement.

However, Carolina Milanesi, an analyst from Kantor Worldpanel, believes this deal is the death knell for BlackBerry.

"The combination of Apple and IBM could mark the end of the road for BlackBerry. Apple now gets to tackle the business market with sales and support staff that is well-versed in enterprises," she said.

"I think for BlackBerry this might be the last straw," she believed.

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