Apple

Analyst claims Apple/IBM partnership to horizontal reach

Thus far, the Apple and IBM partnership announced last year has focused on 10 apps for verticals, with more coming in 2015. Now, a new report says IBM will be adding horizontal enterprise apps as well.

Apple and IBM partnership

Though Apple and IBM have thus far only publicly revealed 10 iPad apps built for IBM clients in a number of verticals, the two firms have promised to deliver at least 90 more during 2015.

The first 10 apps looked fantastic, built to solve very particular problems by taking advantage of the iPad's unique portability and ease of use. I'm excited for what else they have in store on the app front.

According to a new report (via Barron's) from analyst Steve Milunovich with UBS, in addition to the apps designed for enterprise verticals, IBM is working on horizontal apps — those not designed for a specific business or sector — for businesses as well.

He specifically mentioned supply chain management, saying that "IBM has been backing into applications through its SaaS acquisitions and analytics expertise."

"This could be powerful."

The Apple/IBM deal, announced in mid-2014, has always held a huge amount of potential for both companies. For IBM, it was a way to offer unique capabilities to its enterprise clients through its MobileFirst platform, customizing web apps and analytics for the iPad's large touch screen. For Apple, it meant a direct sales and support platform into the enterprise, which is something that Apple had always fallen short on in the past.

I spoke to IBM executives about the partnership last year, and they said that the deal helped both parties — Apple brought tons of app design know-how and best practices, while IBM brought its massive client list and sales force.

Both companies have their strengths and weaknesses and, if the folks I spoke to are to be believed, both IBM and Apple are well aware of how they need each other to be successful selling iPads in the enterprise.

However, market realities can't be ignored: Milunovich said Apple is dictating much of the low-level terms of the deal.

"Apple is dictating the terms of customer engagement... IBM sales people are only to have Macs with them running Keynote presentations developed by Apple. This partnership probably has more teeth than most given the one time competitors are highly complementary today and have opposite strengths."

Apple is fanatical about presentation — everything from the quality of the stone floors in its retail stores to how presentations are made by its corporate partner. Nothing is left to chance.

It's not known if this rubs some of the IBM folks the wrong way, but Apple has spent more than a decade perfecting its pitch and becoming the largest company in the world along the way.

Perhaps IBM, and everyone else in the corporate world, could learn a thing or two from Apple. Do you agree? Why or why not?

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About Jordan Golson

Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.

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