Apple, IBM agreement shows progress for enterprise mobility

First of 100 new apps to appear this fall

We’ve covered enterprise mobility and collaboration for years, so we took note of the recent announcement by Apple and IBM, who have agreed to create a partnership that addresses what the two call a “new class of business apps,” intended to bring IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to Apple’s iPhone and iPad. As part of the deal, IBM will sell iPhones and iPads with the industry-specific solutions to business clients worldwide.

The partnership will focus on business process, seeking to address mobility challenges with four core capabilities. These include:

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

The new business apps become available starting this fall and will continue into 2015. Commenting on the partnership in a statement, 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.”

Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO added, “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. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can’t imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

Our observations: While integrated Unified Communications features and mobile device management (used to manage BYOD) are increasingly available for mobile devices that serve business users, the kinds of native apps being proposed by Apple and IBM are less common among device manufacturers and service providers.

What will be interesting is to see how Google reacts with its Android platform in addressing these niche enterprise applications and content requirements, and how other professional services organizations that serve the enterprise either embrace or counter this move by Apple and IBM. Still, we are encouraged to see continued progress supporting business-centric apps and enterprise mobility.

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