IBM/Apple: A Match Made in History

Carl Weinschenk
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Seven Must-Have Features for Great Mobile Apps

The agreement between Apple and IBM to jointly develop products initially raised eyebrows because the two companies are so different and have such different lineages. But, upon reflection, it seems to makes a lot of sense, at least conceptually.

The companies released the first 10 IBM MobileFirst for iOS products from the partnership this week. ZDNet’s Natalie Gagliordi points out that the pairing “was meant to marry IBM's business sense with Apple's flare for design and simplicity - resulting in applications that are consumer in feel but enterprise software at the core.”

The first products are aimed at banking, retail, insurance, financial services and “telecommunications for governments and airlines.” The initial clients include Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte, the story said. The piece has details on each of the 10 products.

The partnership of IBM and Apple is more important than two random companies that each have something the other needs. The two are iconic and deeply enmeshed in the history of the modern computer.

Greg Satell at Forbes does a great job of tracing the story. The bottom line is that the two, eons ago -- in computer time, at least -- were fighting for the same early users of personal computers. Of course, Microsoft and Intel came along and dominated the PC sector for decades.

All things must pass. IBM and Apple have come back in very different forms than the more or less direct competitors they were back in the halcyon days of the mid-1980s. The fact that they have evolved differently puts them in a position to help each other now.

This, Satell writes, is what is happening:

Now, it seems that the two companies are taking an entirely different tack. Rather than viewing their capabilities as being in conflict with one another, they see enormous synergies.  Apple, with its sleek devices and interfaces, gets access to IBM’s data and enterprise sales capabilities.  IBM, for its part, can markedly improve its service to corporate clients.

At Mashable, Lance Ulanoff suggests that Apple had gone as far as it could in the enterprise because big companies write their own apps and software, which runs on traditional devices. IBM may be its entry conduit:

The partnership with IBM essentially breaks through that ceiling by letting IBM handle the task of tying these apps back into legacy data and analytics, but doing it all through IBM's cloud. For Apple, the IBM partnership allows enterprise-level apps to live on iOS, further integrating iPads and iPhones into big business and, of course, opening up new market opportunities.

Ulanoff is not as direct in delineating the gains to IBM. Clearly, however, it stands to benefit from the traffic driven by Apple’s interface expertise.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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