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The Apple/IBM deal: iOS claims the IoT

Jonny Evans | July 24, 2014
The partnership announced last week isn't just about selling more iPhones. It's part of a big push into the Internet of Things.

- Aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney is teaming up with IBM to use big data systems to analyze information from 4,000 commercial aircraft engines to predict problems before they happen.

- One U.K. pub chain already uses these systems to analyze what people are drinking and where, and to figure out better offers to build business.

- U.K. retailer Tesco uses big data analysis in lots of ways, including deciding what to stock in stores based on geographical and other criteria.

Of course, big data analysis requires big data collection. How can the partners create new opportunities in new industries with the technology?

That's going to take data, so imagine what might happen if you combined the flood of data flowing from 800 million existing iOS devices with IBM's Watson?

This kind of information would drive huge opportunity for both companies, even while Apple's industry-leading commitment to user privacy means user data is kept safe and secure.

Who gains?

- Apple gains the chance to offer solutions designed to take advantage of big data analytics along with products inherently capable of gathering such data.

- IBM gains the potential of analyzing huge amounts of information that would otherwise be forbidden to it.

- Consumers -- including enterprise consumers -- gain access to the kind of insights big data promises to deliver, while maintaining privacy.

Connected accessories
The potential of the data that is being collected isn't confined to iOS devices. It also extends to future iOS-compatible connected devices, such as those working with HomeKit, CarPlay or HealthKit. All these connected devices will be able to gather and share date, so long as you permit it.

Pump this data through IBM's big data tools, and Apple and IBM have a potential opportunity of developing a series of insight delivery tools for use in different verticals: smart-city infrastructure, intelligent energy supply, disease and pollution control, and more.

The potential here is that the data gathered by 800 million-plus iOS devices can (safely and securely) be shared with Apple and IBM, if and when they begin to collect it.

When they do (and I believe they will), we will see the Apple and IBM deal turn out to be one of the most future-focused moves under Tim Cook's watch so far. It enables IBM to exploit the popularity of Apple's consumer technologies while switching Apple on to the big data insights and opportunities IBM can provide.

This is a missing link to the Internet of Things. As you introduce real-time analysis of data-driven events that impact on connected devices, you can begin to predict large-scale needs, with consequences on global health, the environment, energy supply and more. In fact, predictions of such consequences are part of the promise of connected technology.


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