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BYOD worries drove Apple-IBM deal — and a huge win for Apple

If there was any doubt that IT worries over the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) issue were overblown, witness Wednesday’s news that IBM will sell and support Apple iOS devices in its big accounts and work with Apple to build enterprise applications for those devices.

Now before you hyperventilate over this (too late?), let’s remember, proof will be in the pudding. Two former collaborations between IBM(s ibm) and Apple(s aapl) (and I’m going to the way-back machine here) came to nothing. Remember Kaleida or Taligent? Neither does anyone else.

[pullquote person=”” attribution=”” id=”913664″]Make no mistake, the immediate beneficiary of this collaboration is Apple. IBM has essentially become an Apple reseller and support partner.[/pullquote]

But back to yesterday’s news. CIOs see the need for this to happen. iPhones and iPads remain wildly popular but Apple is not known to work well with others. It does not do on-site service and support. And IT pros are not wild about the idea of waiting in line at the local Genius Bar.

This alliance — if it works as promised — makes that pain go away for IBM accounts.

Sravish Sridhar, CEO of Kinvey, an enterprise focused mobile application development platform, said his customers want a “BYO-AD” or Bring your own Apple Device policy. “If IBM’s field reps are seeing iPad / iPhone as the preferred hardware for enterprises, then it has probably bubbled up to the top,” he noted.

Brian Katz, director of mobile innovation for a large New Jersey pharmaceutical company, said the fact that Apple is working with IBM on a hundred or so mobile applications is a good sign that those applications will appeal to enterprise users.

But he said those who think “this will bring back Sametime or Lotus Notes” have another think coming. Current Lotus Notes users will be happy but the alliance will not drive new adoption, he said. That ship has sailed.

If IBM is able to make iPhones and iPads the front ends to its big data and analytics products, it will be a huge plus, but that needs to play out right. Make no mistake, the immediate beneficiary of this collaboration is Apple. IBM has essentially become an Apple reseller and support partner.

Some IBM critics say this is just the sort of “feel good news” the company likes to announce in advance of its earnings calls which of late have not been so rosy. IBM’s second quarter earnings call is Thursday.

One big question is what Google(s goog) and the Android alliance will do now. IBM’s participation will help Apple preserve its “walled garden” of applications but expand it to more enterprise-worthy apps. Android needs to do something to reassure IT that those Android devices are good corporate citizens. Many corporate accounts do not sanction Android use, citing security concerns.

As for Microsoft, which had been pushing Windows Phone to existing Windows shops, folks will wait to see what happens with the device part of the company’s former devices-and-services push which seems in doubt now. For Blackberry, which used to dominate the business mobile opportunity all these players are chasing, the Apple-IBM deal represents yet another blow.

Katz expects new partnerships will emerge to counter Apple-IBM. Perhaps the Android OEMs will sign up big service providers PriceWaterhouse, Avanade or Accenture as allies in that war.

Stay tuned.

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


14 Responses to “BYOD worries drove Apple-IBM deal — and a huge win for Apple”

  1. Anyone who has had enterprise experience (on the technology side of the house) with Accenture or PWC will snicker at the efficacy of a Samsung and /or Lenovo alliance.

  2. Ice Cowboy

    Actually I do remember Kaleida and Taligent (Pink) – and the AIM Alliance (Apple, IBM, Moto)….

    …and I kept the VHS tape that the AIM Alliance sent out to those corresponding with them at the time… :-D

    However, I think both IBM and Apple are in much better shape going into this one – which is more offensive than defensive (when both were still coping with MS’ disruptive rise), and I think it bodes well for both companies.

    It may be a shot at MS by IBM, but Apple and MS are cozy enough these days that Nadella’s dictum to provide “experiences” across platforms (with the new Office for iPad, e.g.) will also end not hurting Redmond in some ways…

    ….Google and Samsung have the most to lose here, IMO.

  3. WaltFrench

    I’m recalling how Apple discussed using a CPU that Intel was selling, and it was only revealed by Otellini last year, some 7 years after the fact. …that Apple talked to Verizon before eventually inking an exclusive with AT&T, a story reported by Vogelstein and to my knowledge never officially confirmed by either company.

    So, is there some natural reason why Apple would NOT have discussed something like this deal with Accenture, PW or anybody else, before picking IBM? None that I can think of. Almost certainly, Apple linked with IBM because IBM has a head start in vertical mobile apps and device management.

    Others will have to contend with the fact that there are only two other candidate device makers. Microsoft has staked out this integration / BYOD management for itself (and would be more than a little crazy to sign an exclusive with only one), leaving only the question of which worldwide consultant Samsung will pay to assist it by developing verticals that could run on any Android device. (I’d be very surprised to see Google deviate from its “openness” posture that emphasizes making its devices and services accessible to as many as possible.)

    IT shops trying to deal with mobility issues should be very happy to have Apple/IBM competing with Microsoft for their attention by bringing solutions that can be integrated to the business. But it’s hard to imagine how another venture would achieve critical mass to compete with these two; I’d assume it’d have to come “asymmetrically,” maybe from a trusted Enterprise supplier such as Lenovo that could reach across the lines.

  4. Thanks Barb,

    Was I the only person who heard IBM plans to sell AppleCare for the Enterprise? Jordan Kahn got in 9to5 Mac. This is huge.
    1) The big issue with BYOD is IT needs help. IBM is their default go-to. Boom bar set way above what any other single, dual or multiple can deliver.
    2) Opens the door for more Mac sales. The IT ‘just say no’ to Mac policy soon goes away.

    The IBM Cloud, Watson, Enterprise Apps, and security – yup all big contributors also.

    Question – Oracle’s response?

    • Greg Knieriemen

      This whole thing is an IBM publicity stunt. The financial analyst community is pretty unanimous that this pact will have very little impact on either company’s sales.

      It also defies common sense.

      1) The shift to BYOD is a reflection of enterprises not wanting to pay for mobile phones for employees. This announcement is the exact opposite of BYOD.

      2) If you accept the shift to BYOD (which means employees are bringing in both iOS and Android devices), then the idea that IBM is going to push iOS exclusive apps doesn’t work either.

      3) MDM solutions on the market are doing very well accommodating enterprise IT.

  5. Greg Knieriemen

    So IBM is going to sell Apple phones… directly to the enterprise… when the shift is to BYOD where companies are relying on their employees to bring their own devices. Is it 1998?

  6. Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    Some more interesting points about the Apple/IBM deal here. Nothing else, the future is going to be very interesting – it will be very exciting to see how other companies will try to stand up against this alliance.