Landmark Apple and IBM Partnership makes for Strange Bedfellows

by Matt Klassen on July 21, 2014

One needs only to look at the rare 1983 photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving IBM the finger to comprehend the monumental gap in philosophy between Apple’s popular consumer-friendly “cool” vibe and IBM’s stuffed-shirt “legacy” persona. In fact, in the early days of the computer revolution there was no love lost between these two tech giants, but time, as they say, heals all wounds…and makes for the strangest bedfellows.

To that end, Apple and IBM announced last week that they have signed a landmark partnership deal, and while early reports indicate that hell has not frozen over, such a partnership is one of those paradigm altering arrangements that simply can’t help but alter the landscape in today’s tech industry.

But what could have changed so radically in the last several decades to make the once hated rivals into schoolyard chums? As TechNewsWorld writer John P. Mello explains, while “It may not be a marriage made in heaven…the cloud is pretty close.” The reality is that the deal between these two companies is relatively simple, Apple will maintain its cool while getting something IBM has always had: enterprise credibility.

The BYOD movement is deceptively simple to understand. As The Register’s Gavin Clarke explains, it “works like this: consumers like iPhones, they buy iPhones, consumers work for companies, those consumers bring their iPhones to work place.” Most CIOs will tell you that as simple as BYOD is to explain, though, it’s nightmarishly complex to handle, as this influx in personal mobile devices in the workplace has been nothing but a headache for corporate security.

Apple’s lack of enterprise security credibility is nothing new however, but it seems that theCupertinoCompany has seen the winds of change blowing on the BYOD horizon, indicating an enterprise shift back towards business oriented phones. While securing this deal with IBM affords Apple the very credibility it lacks in the business world, its doubtful Apple will ever be able to shake its moniker as a consumer company.

With IBM in the picture I would guess that Apple’s consumer-first (and enterprise-be-damned) decision making process will take on a distinctly more business friendly feel, hopefully ushering out the days when Apple would change charger connectors, for instance, to encourage people to upgrade to its new products. While such a strategy may work for a desperate cash infused populace, such expenditures don’t usually sit well in the business world.

Strategic changes aside, there are significant technological advances that each company bring to the table as well. Just imagine Apple’s Siri personal assistant technology matched with IBM’s Jeopardy winning Watson artificial intelligence, the possibilities are endless. For IBM the company gains a strong foothold in the mobile world, as it will deliver over 100 pre-configured analytics apps to Apple’s still immensely popular devices.

There’s no question that this strategic partnership comes at exactly the right time for Apple, a time, as I mentioned, when Apple has seen unprecedented immersion into the enterprise market with little or no purposeful effort by the company itself and with signs perhaps pointing to a “tipping point” in Apple’s accidental dominance. If Apple is to actually make something of its fortuitous position in the enterprise market it needs to make the right decisions…IBM sort of decisions.

The truly interesting thing about this deal, however, is how utterly simple the exchange is, as what Apple desperately needs is IBM’s enterprise service and support credibility, while IBM, who really doesn’t need this deal at all, gets the one thing International Business Machines has always lacked: a sense of cool.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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