Though we haven't seen too much come out of the "unprecedented" Apple/IBM partnership that was announced last year — the two companies have announced 10 apps designed for specific Enterprise verticals, and that's it so far — we have seen a lot of talk about how much the partnership will deliver.
It takes time to make something special, and I'm happy to give both companies the benefit of the doubt, especially when Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why he did the partnership in the first place.
Speaking at the recent Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, Cook spelled out how the two companies can help each other. Transcript excerpts courtesy of iMore.
"IBM has very deep knowledge of a number of verticals," Cook said. "Apple doesn't have that." IBM has field resources, sales teams, and many other things that Apple doesn't have. On the other side, Apple has amazing devices like the iPhone and iPad that IBM doesn't make, as well as a mobile operating system in iOS that makes it easy — according to Cook, at least — to write custom apps for.
"When we started thinking about 'How do we do this?'," Cook explained, "we came to the realization that we didn't know enough about N-number of verticals, and we didn't have all these people on the street." And Apple didn't have the engineers to write custom apps for all those verticals, nor the expertise to know what apps needed to be written.
He again used the example of productivity apps as something that exists already on the iPad, but that to really "change the way people work," the two companies will have to go further and develop custom apps for individual verticals, addressing their needs and helping employees to work much more efficiently.
"When you start talking about the tool for the nurse, the tool for the pilot, the tool for the flight attendant, the tool for the salesperson, the banker. When you're down at that level, you need apps."
Cook said that the Apple and IBM engineering teams are "extremely complementary" and "work well together." something that I've heard from IBM executives before.
"Enterprise has not moved to mobility in a big way like the consumer has," he said. "There's still so many people stuck at their desks... it's unbelievable."
Tim Cook has been proven correct about many of his predictions, so when he says that he believes the outcome of the IBM partnership will be "truly profound," I think we can all be excited for what comes next.
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.