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Analytics, Security Key to Apple, IBM Tie-Up

Ray Le Maistre

Apple and IBM are making a joint bid to dominate the enterprise mobility market with a combination of Apple devices and IBM applications, at the heart of which are IBM's analytics capabilities, security offerings, and a raft of customer support services.

The two massive brands, once fierce rivals in the personal computing world, have spotted an opportunity to capture a major chunk of a very large market by integrating more than 100 IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) applications and analytics tools with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone and iPad device platforms and iOS operating system, and then jointly marketing the resulting packages. IBM will sell the Apple devices that are bundled with its apps to enterprises worldwide, and with IBM providing IT services and products to enterprise customers in 170 countries, that's a significant sales channel.

In addition, IBM has developed iOS-specific cloud services for device management, security, analytics and mobile integration, to support end users, while Apple will support the IBM applications with its AppleCare offering.

For the full details of what the two companies are proposing, see Apple, IBM Team on Enterprise Mobility.

This is a massive deal, and while there are many angles of interest, there are three key things to note here.

First, Apple is now making a very dedicated and strong push into the enterprise space, where its devices are already widely used at companies that support BYOD (bring your own device). Now, though, Apple's devices will come with tailor-made enterprise capabilities and support from a trusted partner brand.

Second, the key capability that is underpinning this joint assault, from an applications perspective, is analytics, which as Light Reading has noted is absolutely key to pretty much any credible approach to communications networking and services -- without advanced analytics, the insights that service providers and end users need in order to maximize efficiencies and productivity cannot be achieved. IBM is one of the world leaders in terms of big data analytics, while Apple is one of the global leaders in smartphones and tablets, so this is a very powerful alliance that could be the final nail in Blackberry's coffin and create a sense of panic at Microsoft, which, having acquired Nokia's mobile devices division, has just proclaimed itself as the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. (See MWC14: Analytics Holds the Key, Microsoft Officially Closes Nokia Buy, BlackBerry Q4 Sales Sink to Sub-$1B, and Telco Big Data Market to Thrive.)

In addition, the emphasis on security is also very notable and relevant and will chime well with the needs of enterprises. (See AT&T's Amoroso: Perimeter Security No Longer Enough, Security in a 4G, M2M World and Heavy Reading: Telcos Should Be Vocal on Security.)

Third, with IBM selling the Apple devices (with pre-loaded and optimized applications) direct to enterprises, that leaves even less room for the communications service providers to offer a combined package of connectivity and applications to enterprise users. This move by Apple and IBM doesn't look very positive for the mobile operators.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/18/2014 | 4:12:53 PM
Re: Quite a change over 30 years
And then Apple dumped PowerPC in 2006. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/18/2014 | 11:53:44 AM
Re: Quite a change over 30 years
Hmm. Didn't apple get over its hatred of IBM when it used PowerPC chips?
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
7/18/2014 | 1:48:46 AM
Re: Sorry, operators
Operators have repeatedly tried to sell IT services with limited success, but it's a different business. Smartphones may offer another way in but I suspect the actual impact will not be as big as the imagined impact. Agree with you @mhhf1ve that the Android world offers opportunities to the operators with other IT players, especially in China where US IT brands are taking a big hit.

Plus IBM and Apple is a curious mix of cultures. Can they get along?

Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/17/2014 | 12:42:44 PM
Quite a change over 30 years
IBM was the Great Satan for Apple over much of its history. In that famous "1984" ad that launched the Mac, IBM got smashed in the face by a hammer:

Also: Here's Steve Jobs flipping off IBM in 1983.

This is another nail in the coffin for BlackBerry. What the heck does that company have to offer that anybody wants anymore?
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/16/2014 | 6:01:43 PM
Re: Sorry, operators
Wireless operators and Apple devices were never really going to go together well anyway, so I don't see a huge loss here. It just pushes operators more and more towards Android and other manufacturers that are willing to do white-label enterprise apps and partner with operators for mobile business solutions.
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/16/2014 | 1:33:44 PM
Re: Sorry, operators
FWIW, large enterprise support is not the same as retail customer support - but the viral Comcast piece really takes the cake! In fact, if it is a big customer, vendors like IBM and Oracle will have a couple of full time persons on premise. This is unlikely for this Apple-IBM MobilityFirst deal. Apple will get a sell through and be able to tap into Big Data & Analytics while IBM probably gets a nice VAR discount while it can fill the mobile hole. I believe this is just the beginning, now that IBM is not a PC company. So what's stopping them to integrate further, especially when/if Apple merges iOS with OSX?
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/16/2014 | 12:06:45 PM
Re: Sorry, operators
@SReedy I believe that larger businesses take out a support contract, but how good it is depends on how well trained the people are who take the calls. I know IT people who just get frustrated spending so much time on the phone with these support people and still not getting their issues resolved. 
User Rank: Blogger
7/16/2014 | 10:13:47 AM
Re: Sorry, operators
key to this is going to be customer support, a MAJOR challenge in enterprise services. If APple + IBM get that part right, and convince enterprise users that their data and apps are seure, then this will be a slam dunk for many...
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