Apple and IBM, at various points rivals and allies for control of the desktop computer market, became partners again Tuesday in a deal to create more than 100 mobile apps designed specifically for use in businesses.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Apple and IBM said they would develop a class of “industry-specific” business apps designed from the ground up for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
IBM will provide cloud services tailored for Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, “including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration,” a joint press release said.
And IBM will sell iPhones and iPads to business clients around the world.
The deal, which the two tech giants called an “exclusive partnership,” brings together one of the world’s biggest consumer brands with an industry icon whose middle name is literally business.
The partnership could give Apple inroads into business markets that the company has long sought, especially as it tries to counter growing mobile competition from Google and Microsoft.
“It is a huge win for both of them, and could make Apple’s iOS the de facto standard in mobile IT at the big expense of Android and Windows 8 mobile,” said analyst Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies of San Jose.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said the deal “opens up a large market opportunity for Apple.”
“For the first time ever, we’re putting IBM’s renowned big data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips,” he said. “This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”
Apple released a photo of Cook walking through Apple’s campus Tuesday with IBM CEO and President Ginni Rometty.
In the early 1980s, IBM became Apple’s rival by producing the IBM PC. In 1984, Apple’s famous Super Bowl commercial for the first Macintosh computer featured an ominous “Big Brother” that purportedly represented IBM.
But in 1991, Apple, IBM and Motorola formed an alliance that produced the PowerPC chips used in Apple computers. But in 2006, Apple began to incorporate Intel chips.
Bajarin called the latest Apple-IBM alliance “a big deal.”
“The big knock on Apple has been that they were not serious about the enterprise,” he said in an e-mail. “That is not the case now. With IBM, they can attack it head on and IBM will be there to sell and support the devices and make it easier for enterprises to integrate iOS devices into their overall IT program.”