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Apple-IBM partnership off to 'impressive' start

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 16, 2014
App and business sector choices reveal strategy of 'foundational' apps that can be customised for customers, say experts.

The 10 apps touted last week will be followed by approximately 10 new ones each quarter, said Baker, as IBM and Apple build their inventory.

IBM's first wave, however, will be used for more than just a kick-off of the partnership. "[IBM] Global Services will use these as proof-of-concepts," said Baker. In other words, as sales tools. "They'll say, 'Oh, you like this? We can customize it, just sign here.'"

Measuring the success of the partnership will not be easy, the analysts agreed, unless Apple discloses device sales specific to the deal -- which is unlikely -- and IBM calls out revenue derived from its app contracts, also unlikely.

Clues may include a regular accounting of the number of customers or at least additional names of the largest adopters. "Those names speak very strongly to this strategy resonating," Golvin said of the likes of Citi and American Airlines, two of those cited in the joint Apple-IBM press release last week.

"If some of the individual clients were to actually share concrete metrics of their own, that might tell us something," Golvin continued. "And there's an indirect measurement: The lack of adoption of Android tablets and smartphones in the enterprise would tell us the extent to which corporations changed their plans for that ecosystem."

The analysts were bullish about the new Apple-IBM mobile-in-the-enterprise strategy, calling what they'd seen so far a well-designed first step. "They've taken the things that each delivers, then provided significant benefits to large corporate customers," said Golvin.

"For Apple, these apps make its tablets more useful," Gottheil added. "Finding [use cases] that people had not thought of before is a net win for devices."


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