IBM Harvests First Fruits of Apple Alliance

Mike Vizard
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Five months after initially forming a broad-ranging mobile computing alliance with Apple, the first applications stemming from that effort were introduced this week by IBM.

Aimed at the airline, insurance and telecommunications sectors, the three applications fulfill a pledge IBM made to develop native Apple iOS applications using the Swift programming language developed by Apple.

IBM says a Passenger + app enables attendants to quickly rebook passengers in mid-flight. A Retention app helps insurance agents juggle multiple tasks, and an Expert Tech app allows field technicians to better prepare for their appointments and more accurately diagnose problems. The next set of applications that IBM is developing target the banking and finance, retail and government sectors.

Mike Gilfix, IBM director of enterprise mobile, says all three applications are essentially 70 percent complete. IBM will work with each individual customer to customize the rest of the application to meet their specific requirements, says Gilfix.

All three applications are based on an IBM MobileFirst platform that Gilfix says provides a consistent set of application programming services (APIs) for accessing backend applications and services. Those instances of that platform can be deployed on premises, hosted by IBM, or accessed via a multitenant cloud service running on the IBM SoftLayer cloud, says Gilfix. Included in that platform, adds Gilfix, are all the facilities needed to manage those APIs.

The IBM alliance with Apple is designed to generate not only applications, but also consulting opportunities for IBM. Longer term, Gilfix says IBM envisions creating an ecosystem of applications for Apple iOS devices based on the IBM MobileFirst platform.

In the meantime, regardless of mobile computing developments elsewhere, IBM is clearly betting that Apple will maintain its dominance of the mobile computing landscape inside the enterprise for years to come.

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