How IBM’s Apple Deal Could Affect You

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Apple and IBM have joined in a global partnership that will see Big Blue pushing iOS devices to its enterprise customers, while Apple focuses on the creation of industry-specific native apps.

In addition, IBM will tweak its cloud services, including analytics and IT security, for iOS. Apple, which already has a significant presence in the enterprise, will build a business-centric AppleCare service-and-support hub. Both tech firms will, presumably, profit.

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“For the first time ever we’re putting IBM’s renowned Big Data analytics at iOS users’ fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple,” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in a public statement. “This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

The irony of this situation is that Apple and IBM were once fierce opponents. In 1984, Apple smacked Big Blue with an iconic Super Bowl commercial that featured a woman sprinting through a dystopian future, chased by legions of black-suited troopers. At the end of the ad, she hurls a sledgehammer through a giant screen on which a Big Brother-like figure exhorts the status quo:

Although the minute-long spot never uses the term “IBM,” Steve Jobs made it abundantly clear in a 1983 keynote address that he perceived IBM as the Orwellian overlord of the then-nascent computer field, telling the audience: “It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money… Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”

In the short term, the Apple-IBM alliance could threaten Microsoft, which relies on enterprise software for a significant portion of its revenue, as well as Google, which has made no secret of its desire to provide as many businesses as possible with cloud services. While some analysts (most notably Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster) believe that iPhones and iPads have already penetrated the enterprise to the point where even IBM’s salespeople won’t move that many more units, Business Insider suggests there are segments such as oil and gas with precious few iOS devices in play—a potential growth opportunity.

What does this mean for your average tech worker? For those who already run shops loaded with iOS devices and Apple services, probably not much. But for businesses that already have a relationship with IBM, prepare for a heavy push to adopt everything iOS.

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Image: IBM/Video: Apple