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Apple fashions 'brilliant' partnership with IBM for instant enterprise cred

Gregg Keizer | July 16, 2014
The business-focused deal between Apple and IBM unveiled Tuesday is "brilliant," one analyst said, noting that Apple now gets into the enterprise through the front door rather than the back.

The timing of the deal — Cook said that the partnership had been in the works for two years — also stuck with some of the experts.

"I think Apple has been much easier to deal with since Cook took over," said Gottheil, referring to co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs' known ambivalence — and that may be putting it kindly — toward corporations as customers.

Historically, Apple has been at best a minor leaguer in business, with its Mac often limited to startups, small firms, or design departments in larger organizations. The iPhone and iPad changed that to a large degree, but even then no one has made the mistake of saying Apple was all about "productivity and platforms," the latest mantra of its rival Microsoft.

Yet Jobs might have struck a deal with IBM as easily as did Cook, countered Gillett. Apple has changed in the last three years, and Jobs was, if anything, a pragmatist. "The scale and ambition that Apple has achieved now, I think Steve would have done the same," Gillett said.

By striking a deal with IBM, Apple has gained enterprise credibility overnight, the analysts agreed, and put it in a market where Microsoft, and to a lesser extent, Google, dominate.

"Apple increases its business presence, at the expense of Android, Windows, and Blackberry," asserted Gottheil.

"Android has struggled in enterprise, for security and other reasons, but resistance has diminished recently by dint of Samsung's Knox and efforts by Google," chimed in Golvin. "This raises the bar significantly for Android."

Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies went further than that in tallying the damage to Google.

"This is not good news for the Android crowd," Bajarin wrote on Techpinions after the Tuesday announcement. "Google, and especially Samsung, had been on a course to try and get more Android devices into IT. However, this Apple/IBM deal will make that very, very difficult now."

Microsoft may not come out unscathed either. "This will also have an impact on Microsoft's quest to make Windows 8 tablets and smartphones the de facto standard in IT," he said, referring to a Microsoft strategy that has thus far met with little success. "That would have been a tough thing to do even if Apple and IBM had not gotten together, but it will be even more difficult for them to gain a lot of ground now."

And as for the talk by Gottheil and Gillett about Jobs? Bajarin had his take, too.

"I suspect Steve Jobs has a big grin on his face up in the sky," Bajarin said.


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