Just how close are Apple and IBM these days?

Reports that IBM is about to buy up to 200,000 Macs a year marks a new stage in their partnership—but something is still missing.

IBM buying 200,000 Macs from Apple partnership iOS Macbook
Credit: Paul Sakuma/Feature Photo Service for IBM

Almost exactly a year after Apple and IBM announced a big enterprise deal, word has surfaced that IBM will be purchasing up to 200,000 Macs every year. That's a lot of Macs, and it's easy to see it as a validation of last year's deal.

See also: What's missing from Apple's big enterprise deal with IBM?

But despite the big buy, there's still something essential missing here. Like many other observers, when the deal came out last year, I was shocked at how much things had changed from the days when Apple was locked in an existential battle over PCs with IBM (and Microsoft, of course). But the deal was all about boosting iOS in the enterprise, it did not include any mention of Apple's line of Mac computers.

And now, despite IBM buying truckloads of Macs for its own workforce, there's still no word on whether IBM will share the Mac's benefits with its customers as well as its employees. Sure, IBM is a really big company and 200,000 computers is hardly chump change. But the real power of an Apple/IBM hookup is what they deliver to other companies.

So far, at least, that doesn't seem to include Macs along with all those iPhones and apps. Maybe that will change as more and more IBMers do their daily work on Macbook Airs instead of ThinkPads, but until then, I'm not seeing this combination as a full-fledged marriage (more like a long-distance affair).

Still, it could happen. After all, who ever thought all those blue-suited IBM minions would be toting Macbooks?

See also: Why IBM is hiring 1,000 software designers

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