IBM gets over its fear of Siri, joins forces with Apple to push iOS to the enterprise

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook taking a casual stroll.

Ah, remember the good old days, when IBM forbade its own employees from using Siri or other non-enterprise software and devices for fear of data leakage or theft?  So much for that.

Now, IBM and Apple will collaborate on selling iPads and iPhones into enterprise accounts and developing business applications for iOS. Presumably this means that IBM has loosened up its restrictions on Apple device use by its own employees.

As of two years ago, IBM armed its employees with Blackberries and actually disabled access to Siri and consumer-oriented file storage and share services including Apple iCloud and Dropbox for IBMers who insisted on using iOS devices. Presumably those are the very sorts of IT concerns that this deal will alleviate.

In what played out as mutual admiration session over at Re/code, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty described Apple as “the gold standard for consumers.”

Since selling off its PC division to Lenovo ten years ago, IBM has not been a force in that market. Conversely,  Apple has relied on consumers to bring its iPhones and iPads into the enterprise through the back door — those devices were initially unsanctioned and unwelcomed by IT departments. C-level execs led the charge that forced IT to change those policies, in what became known as the bring-your-own-device movement.

“If you were building a puzzle [these two companies] would fit nicely together with no overlap,” Apple CEO Tim Cook told Re/code. “We do not compete on anything. And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself.”

If this “landmark” collaboration bears fruit — and many such alliances do not — it will be a boon for both companies. Apple gets a new IBM enterprise sales force and 100 new iOS applications for business. And IBM, which has touted a “mobile first” mantra for a few years now, can bask in the reflected glow of Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices. And both companies can take aim at mutual competitors Google with its Android alliance and Microsoft, which is trying to position Windows Phone as an enterprise-friendly mobile option.

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