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Apple-IBM deal threatens Android's enterprise push

Matt Hamblen | July 17, 2014
And BlackBerry may get caught in the cross-fire.

IBM's MobileFirst will be full-service software to govern mobile device management (MDM), mobile application management (MAM) and other capabilities, predicted Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

IBM and Apple "need to offer a full suite of capability," Gold said, while noting that IBM has already been offering some cross-platform support of devices with Fiberlink. With Apple, IBM will be "offering a better integration, perhaps, but it's not a totally new direction."

While some analysts predicted the Apple-IBM partnership could hurt Google's recent pitch for enterprise device management, Gold said that Google and Android "right now are not a force in the enterprise, something that will change in the next 12 to 18 months."

Gold also said that IBM, at some point, will probably partner with Android device makers to offer device management. If IBM doesn't partner with Android players, other software makers will likely step in.

Google didn't comment on the Apple-IBM deal.

The benefits to Apple in the Apple-IBM deal are far greater than they are to IBM.

"This is more about positioning iPads as productivity tools," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel. "There is a wider opportunity for iPad, especially as Android has not made much headway in the enterprise with tablets and since Microsoft is still playing catch up. The opportunity as enterprises go through upgrades is huge, and this is why these vendors care. IBM takes away the biggest complaint IT managers have about Apple, that they do not understand enterprises."

Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group, added that it is "nearly impossible to beat IBM at back-end software." He said the Apple-IBM pairing will be much stronger than Google's Android L announcement, which includes use of software from Google's acquisition of Divide and some elements of Knox software for enterprises from Samsung.

"It is hard to beat IBM in the enterprise, and iOS starts out being naturally more secure than Android, so the Apple-IBM combination represents the very best of both worlds in terms of consumer focus on the device side and enterprise focus on the solution side," Enderle said.

"IBM has a century of doing business with companies who want a vendor who understands their needs and will listen. Meanwhile, Apple, Samsung and Google all have a history of not listening to the enterprise. Enterprise needs are very unique and vastly different from consumer needs," Enderle said.

We're already doing this, say rivals
BlackBerry has begun offering device support for other platforms than its own in the past year, part of an appeal to keep its customers interested in its BlackBerry Enterprise Server software. Milanesi, in comments to the IDG News Service, said Apple's deal with IBM could be the "last straw" for BlackBerry.


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