Apple's IBM alliance kills Google in the enterprise

It's late here in the UK and I haven't got a great deal of time, but the newly-forged global partnership between Apple and IBM to "transform enterprise mobility" cannot go without comment.


{ABOVE: From Apple's anti-IBM 1984 ad. 2014 really isn't like 1984, right?]

Apple gets Big Blue

Apple and IBM jointly released a statement about their new plan this evening. If you want to read it you can take a look here. Indeed, if you are involved in enterprise IT at any level, you really should.

What's interesting is the enterprise focus. Apple has always known it is not an enterprise company, but by teaming with IBM it is making the strongest bid yet for enterprise users.

That's not to say Apple is in a position of weakness in this partnership: its mobile devices are already in use at thousands of enterprise firms worldwide; its mobile devices are the most secure devices you can get; and it is only Apple (of Apple and Android) that offers an operating system that's suitably secure for enterprise users. (The only military-grade Android distribution available was Samsung Knox, which has been discontinued and sold to Google).

First thoughts

There's a couple of ways to see this:

1) Apple has advantages IBM knows about and wants as it prepares to combat Microsoft in enterprise infrastructure markets. Loser: Microsoft.

2) Apple and IBM will now offer a jointly-maintained platform for mobile enterprise users that Microsoft's cloud-based services and solutions will be able to happily -- and securely -- play on. Loser: Google/Android.

The four core capabilities Apple and IBM will work together on will include (my only direct quote from the joint statement about the deal):

  • A new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • new AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise;
  • new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

Apple is the enterprise

What does this mean to BYOD? At its simplest, it means IT departments and tech purchasers will now enjoy the reliability of IBM's enterprise solutions on Apple's platform. They will get mobile device management, tailored service and support, and key IBM apps.

These are not trivial advantages -- they answer many of the reservations enterprise chiefs have expressed toward using Apple's solutions.

In conjunction with the productivity and other enterprise-focused announcements Apple made at WWDC, it seems clear that when the enterprise tech refresh cycle begins next March following the September 2014 release of iPhone 6, Apple will have a better enterprise offering than at any point in the company's last two decades.

This advantage is made all the more powerful by the agreement that IBM will be able to sell Apple's products to its own enterprise customers, supported by IBM services, solutions, support and software.

The news (to my mind, at least) confirms just how far Apple has come in its battle for relevance against old foe, Microsoft. More than this, I can easily imagine it means Microsoft will now prioritize ensuring its software and services are compatible with Apple's platforms -- which suggests future versions of Office for iOS and for Mac are near guaranteed.

Et tu, Google?

So what might all this mean for Google/Android?

Nothing good.

That platform has no place in the enterprise because it lacks support for enterprise apps and security -- and while BYOD marked a move by consumers to demand their devices in the workplace, a decision by enterprise users to favor Apple's products against Google's will feed back in a reverse spiral, one that will eventually decimate consumer interest in the search giant's second-rate mobile platform.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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