Apple gets down to business with IBM

Apple and IBM have formed a global partnership which will see the two companies co-develop business apps for iPhones and iPads, a move that signals a state of intent from Apple to play an even bigger role in the enterprise space.

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IBM CEO Virginia Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The companies say in a statement that the tie-up aims to “redefine the way work gets done” and inspire “mobile-led business change”, ambitions that are likely to appear in marketing campaigns for the products and services due to launch in the autumn. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Development will centre around four areas: the creation of more than 100 industry-specific apps, optimising IBM cloud services – such as device management, security, analytics and mobile integration – for iOS, the launch of a new AppleCare support service for business and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management. IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads to clients worldwide as part of the agreement.

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, says: “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.”

The tie-up marks a spectacular reversal of a rivalry between the two companies, which was perhaps most heated in the 1980s when Apple ran a string of advertisements looking to depict itself as the innovator – including its famous Orwellian 1984 TV spot and a 1981 “Welcome IBM. Seriously.” press ad.

Apple’s iOS is growing in the enterprise space, with 72 per cent of new business mobile activations in the third quarter, according to Good Technology’s mobile index. The IBM deal will allow the company to expand its customer base further, particularly across tablets and desktop devices.

For IBM, the deal is likely to give the company more kudos and credibility amongst business executives by tying up with the world’s second most valuable brand

Last week Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella released a lengthy memo to staff, in which he set out the company’s enterprise ambitions.

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