Apple and GE just put iOS inside Industry 4.0

Apple and GE’s new agreement opens the door for further iOS deployment across industry infrastructure and puts Apple at the core of digital transformation.

Working together, Apple and GE have just opened the doors for further iOS deployment across industry infrastructure.

Apple in the infrastructure

This is a pretty significant step that puts Apple inside future infrastructure, a move I predicted would take place some time ago.

GE confirmed plans to standardize on iPhone and iPad for mobile devices and (like IBM) to provide Macs to its 330,000 employees, if they want one.

Meanwhile, Apple intends to promote GE’s Predix solution as the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) analytics platform of choice to its customers and developers.

This is by no means a consumer play, but with GE software in use across key industries and infrastructure deployments across the planet, the decision adds a lot more substance to Apple’s already-hefty claim to be a company at the core of digital transformation.

Current estimates suggest utilities will invest $17 trillion in global infrastructure through 2035. That means Apple’s decision to boost the relevance of its products to industry firms looks like a very sensible move for a corporation seeking future growth. The IoT extends all the way from the watch on your wrist to the industrial machines that make that watch possible.

Apple, GE partner on industrial IoT apps

What’s happening is that Apple and GE are working together to create “powerful industrial apps designed to bring predictive data and analytics from Predix, GE’s industrial IoT platform, to iPhone and iPad.”

This will consist of a new Predix software development kit (SDK) for iOS, which will ship Oct. 26.

Developers can use these tools to build iOS-native Industry 4.0 apps and to use data analytics insights within those tools.

That’s highly significant, and the move should open doors for Apple across key sectors, including aviation, manufacturing, healthcare and energy.

Industrial transformation is real and happening

To get a sense of the significance, a recent survey conducted by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit confirmed that most manufacturers “have recognized the need for industrial transformation, with most already taking action.”

It said around 63 percent of companies have already or are in the process of transforming the way they do business. That’s a sector Apple now has a direct route into thanks to the deal.

“Together, Apple and GE are fundamentally changing how the industrial world works by combining GE’s Predix platform with the power and simplicity of iPhone and iPad,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“Working together, GE and Apple are giving industrial companies access to powerful apps that help them tap into the predictive data and analytics of Predix,” agreed John Flannery, chairman and CEO of GE.

Industry is also getting smart

How will these industrial IoT solutions be used in the real world?

An Apple press release explains the apps will “give industrial operators more insight and visibility into the performance of their equipment and operations right from their iPhone or iPad.”

That means key things, such as self-healing machines, intelligent equipment monitoring, and more. A developer might build an app that analyzes incoming equipment performance data in order to identify and notify of potential problems with key equipment. This enables speedy inspection and repair of that equipment.

“These industrial apps will close the information loop faster, ultimately increasing cost savings and minimizing unplanned downtime,” Apple said.

GE also confirmed it is developing iOS apps for its own internal and customer use. These include things such as the Asset Performance Management (APM) Cases app, which helps manage and maintain equipment at reduced costs.

Thanks to this new partnership with GE and the host of other enterprise-focused Apple partnerships that preceded it, it is now undeniable that Apple has quietly become an enterprise infrastructure company with feet that straddle both consumer and industrial markets — and all the sectors in between.

Apple watchers must now wake up to the reality that there’s a lot more to this new Apple than the design of the latest iPhone or the lack of games on Apple TV. While many in the industry failed to take effective notice, Apple just became an infrastructure company. Who saw that coming?

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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