Enterprises demand longer lifecycles for the devices they buy than many consumers, so it will be imperative for IBM and Apple to pledge longer-term support for the hardware, and for iOS, than has been the case so far, Moorhead argued.
That will run counter to Apple's usual practice, which has been to deprecate hardware as succeeding editions of iOS roll out. When iOS 8 launches this fall, for example, it will run only on the iPhone 4S and later, and on the iPad 2 and newer. Consumers who bought an iPhone 4 in 2010, for example, or the original iPad, which debuted the same year, will be out of luck.
Moorhead was curious as to how Apple will handle the needs of enterprises for long-lived support. "This could be really, really interesting," Moorhead said. "Microsoft's burden has always been its backwards compatibility, but now as Apple rolls forward it will have to support legacy hardware and older versions of iOS, too."
At the least, Moorhead said, Apple will require support personnel who have expertise in older products, perhaps dedicated technicians who know the ins and outs of, for instance, the iPhone 5, and are able to answer questions in 2016 and beyond, after the device is retired from Apple's normal support channels.
Current AppleCare plans for businesses, including the pricy Alliance package, only cover the current versions of iOS and OS X, so the new Enterprise plan will have to go beyond that to satisfy companies that buy into IBM's deals. Moorhead assumed, for a variety of reasons, that prices for AppleCare Enterprise will be even higher than what Apple now offers.
"This will have to be more expensive than what's available now," said Moorhead. "IBM will have to track what's loaded on customers' iOS devices, what's the standard load that needs to be on each, and the form factor so that environmental cases, like an iPad in a machine tool shop or manufacturing plant, can continue to be used."
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