Back in July, Apple and IBM announced a surprising deal in which Big Blue would help produce enterprise-specific iOS apps and provide IT support for businesses that want to use iPads and iPhones.
On Wednesday, the two companies announced the first products produced by the partnership. Called IBM MobileFirst for iOS, the apps will be deployed at companies including Citi, Sprint and Air Canada. The apps include:
- Plan Flight, an app for pilots that allows them to view schedules, plans, and manifests
- Passenger+, an app for in-flight crews
- Trusted Advice, which gives financial advisors the ability to look at relevant documents and statistics on the go
- Incident Aware, which gives police officers and law enforcement officials access to maps and real-time video feeds of incidents
- Sales Assist and Pack & Pick, apps for retail stores to manage inventory and customers
- Expert Tech, an app designed to improve customer service from telecommunications workers
One of the main differences between [company]IBM[/company] MobileFirst apps and standard iOS apps is that this business-focused software won’t be available in the public iTunes App Store. The apps are designed with security in mind, according to IBM, because many of them tap into proprietary company data. There’s an emphasis on analytics, to parse that data and give workers in the field equipped with iPhones or iPads the statistics needed to make informed decisions.
It’s possible to see the Apple-IBM partnership as a sign of the times: The tech giant once known as International Business Machines now sells and provides support for [company]Apple[/company] computers. Yet given the bring-your-own-device issues facing IT professionals — people want to bring iPhones and iPads to work but Apple doesn’t work well with others — it’s a deal that makes a lot of sense for both sides.
But if IBM doesn’t want to gain a reputation as “a Genius Bar for enterprise,” it needs to provide reliable and intuitive enterprise iOS apps that delight the end user — not just the CIO who signed up for the IBM account.