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IBM mobile app tie-up gives Apple enterprise credibility

Matthew Finnegan | July 18, 2014
Customers, analysts and vendors give their verdict on the partnership.

Apple and IBM will have to work hard to prove that their partnership will work, according to Lotus F1's IT director.

Yesterday's announcement of the companies' deal to develop mobile apps for the enterprise caught many by surprise, but industry figures have told ComputerworldUK that the benefits, mainly for Apple to finally secure a foothold in the enterprise, are clear.

Once bitter enemies, the rivalry of the 1980s has thawed and the aim is to marry Apple's dominance in consumer markets since the launch of the iPhone, with IBM's expertise in supporting large IT projects.

IT director at Lotus F1, Michael Taylor, said that while the partnership looks good on paper, the different cultures of the companies mean that there is work to be done to ensure it succeeds.

"It depends on how quickly they are able to mobilise, and how quickly they can stand up the services and start to deliver true value," he said.

"Theoretically it is a match made in heaven, but they are two different organ isations - so it is going to be a challenge to see how they come together."

One of the obstacles to Lotus F1 adopting iOS in the business has been a lack of enterprise-grade applications, Taylor said.

"Now with the combination of the might of IBM and its cloud delivery mechanism, its understanding of enterprise-level support and the fact that it will pre-develop these applications, certainly makes it much more of a viable platform for us going forward - and I think that is probably the same for most organisations."

Camden Council CIO John Jackson agreed that opening the door for Apple's mobile platform could be a major benefit to public sector customers.

"It's really interesting. What you've got is obviously a tie-up between innovation and a classic enterprise-focused, corporate entity: IBM. What this does is it pulls one into the other in both directions. It could be very interesting for the enterprise market," he said.

"We're going to see opportunities to deliver more mobile solutions into the government space on an attractive platform."

He added: "Apple have been knocking on the door of enterprise for a while but don't have a footprint yet, this will help with that.

Other alliances in the pipeline?

Meanwhile Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett said that the "landmark agreement" will put pressure on other rival mobile platform providers to strike their own alliances.

"Given IBM's market strength and coverage, this partnership gives Apple enterprise capabilities and credibility at one stroke - and gives IBM a premium advantage in the race for mobile enterprise leadership. Look for Google and leading enterprise suppliers to seek partnerships that offer a credible alternative," he said.


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