Apple and IBM Join Hands
This year, both Google and Apple have played their hands for how they intend to ramp up their assault on the enterprise market and increase their overall market share.
With Android L, Google is working with Samsung to integrate KNOX features into Android, a move that should help remove the barriers to entry for enterprise adoption and support. Apple however has taken a different route. Apple is already kind of a big thing in the business world, but it's about to get a whole lot bigger. By entering into a partnership with IBM, Apple is looking to turbo charge iOS Enterprise Mobility.
Two Goliaths Hand in Hand
Apple's infamous 1984 video
Apple and IBM working together is nothing new. IBM supplied the chips to Macs from 1994 until 2006. The two also collaborated to create Macintosh Application Services, hosting PowerPC Mac software on IBM's AIX Unix systems. The two even started work on Apple's next desktop operating system, before Apple acquired NeXT back in 1997.
IBM and Apple have gone from being competitors, to competitors who collaborate, to partners. Some might question whether Apple really needs to get anymore market share in enterprise. In the release, announcing the deal, Tim Cook discussed how "over 98% of the Fortune 500 and over 92% of the Global 500 use iOS devices in their business day".
Apple will bring its world class hardware and software to the partnership, while IBM contributes its team of 100,000 enterprise consultants, in addition to its enterprise-grade cloud, data and analytics offerings. Together, this makes for a strong alliance and a compelling offering for CIOs who need to make decisions about which platform to support.
IBM and Apple are strengthening their offering as the platform of choice, by creating 100 industry-specific apps. The apps will deliver a range of different services to businesses that could help to further increase the case for wider adoption of iPads and iPhones. The apps, created by both IBM and Apple, will deliver a best of breed experience - Apple's design, with IBM's backend intelligence and security, built from the ground up.
Ever since the iPhone and iPad waded their way into the corporate world, a number of mobile device management companies emerged. These firms, covering device management, app management and enterprise app stores, will no doubt be wondering just how much impact this will have on their business.
One issue that appears to be cropping up is that firms use a patchwork of products, services and internally developed software. Apple and IBM see themselves as being able to come in and deliver exactly what companies need. They are trying to be the one stop shop for all things mobile. By making it easier to deploy mobility, and delivering apps that provide powerful business intelligence, Apple and IBM want to supercharge how businesses operate.
As a developer, news that Apple and IBM are creating 100 industry-specific apps comes as welcome news. Many of these will likely be horizontal apps to help with admin tasks and general tasks that matter to a wide range of firms. Whilst some of them will be more specific to certain industries, our hope is that they will demonstrate to firms the power of what can be achieved with mobility.
This should encourage businesses to work with developers, like Mubaloo more, in order to better utilise the devices in the pockets of employees.
Whilst mobility has led to companies being able to create new tools to help employees be more efficient, their use has also created a vast amount of data that most firms aren't equipped to deal with. By being able to utilise IBM's big data analytical tools within the apps being created, mobility will be able to come into its own.
Big data has the potential to help companies hugely. By making these services easily accessible from mobile, Apple and IBM will be creating the types of apps that could potentially remove the need for a computer for a large amount of tasks. Looking to the rumour mill shows why the timing may be right. Apple is expected to release an iPad Pro later this year, in addition to providing the ability to run apps side-by-side. With the possibility of a larger, phablet style iPhone as well, Apple is gearing up towards its assault on the enterprise market.
The Danger of Restrictions
Whilst all of this is good for Apple's strategy to target the enterprise market, there is an elephant in the room. If devices get too restricted in terms of what users are allowed to install on them, or unable to upgrade to the latest OS due to IT restrictions, we could see iOS go the way of other declining solution providers.
Part of the reason executives flocked to the iPhone, as their personal device, is that they weren't restricted by what they could do with them. When devices are owned and managed by IT, employees have to follow the rules, which sometimes means not being able to install the apps they want to. If the IBM management solution is similar to MobileIron, this could help to circumnavigate the problem by helping to separate between work and personal usage.
80% of Work Time
Two years ago, Tim Cook proclaimed that he spends up to 80% of his time using his iPad at work. Apple views the iPad as more than the consumption device that it was initially perceived to be. Whilst the iPad has managed to get inside the enterprise, it has largely been consigned to use by executives for email, or for sales teams to help improve productivity. Apple is aware that there is still more it can do.
By creating the right tools, on the right devices, Apple and IBM are hoping to empower businesses in the same way Apple empowered consumers with their revolutionary devices. 2014 is a pivotal year for Apple. Its executive team has been hard at work teasing 'the most exciting product line up' for years. The eyes of investors, consumers and media are all fixed on what Apple will do next.
Analyst estimates suggest that iPad sales are becoming flat year-on-year. This, for Apple, is reason enough to look at ways to boost this. By aligning with IBM, Apple is working with the most powerful partner it could.
To quote Steve Jobs, "When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks, because that's what you needed on the farm, but as vehicles started to be used in the urban centres, cars got more popular. Innovations like automatic transmission and power steering and things that you didn't care about in a truck as much started to become paramount in cars... PCs are going to be like trucks. They're still going to be around, they're still going to have a lot of value, but they're going to be used by one out of X people."
Apple's 2014 Mac 30 year anniversary video
This article was written by Mark Mason, CEO and Founder of Mubaloo.