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Apple makes enterprise bid with IBM partnership

Deal to see two firms create industry-specific enterprise apps for iOS

Apple makes enterprise bid with IBM partnership
Cook: This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver

Marking its first meaningful push to take on the enterprise segment, Apple has teamed up with IBM to create enterprise apps and sell mobile devices to corporate customers.

The partnership will see both companies create a new class of industry-specific apps for iPhone and iPad, as well as added cloud services optimised for Apple's mobile operating system, iOS. The set of apps is being dubbed IBM MobileFirst for iOS. A new level of AppleCare support will also be created for enterprise customers, Apple said in a statement.

According to analysts, Apple will benefit by having a more direct line to IBM's enterprise customers, while IBM hopes to reverse eight straight quarters of revenue decline by moving its business software onto mobile devices.

"Mobility - combined with the phenomena of data and cloud - is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions," said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO.

"This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can't imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform."

IBM will also resell iPhones and iPads to enterprise customers as part of the deal, the financial terms of which were not disclosed.

For Apple's part, CEO Tim Cook said that the company was hoping to leverage IBM's strengths in big data analytics and cloud to make iOS a more attractive proposition to enterprise customers. Many enterprises do utilise iOS in one form or another, but the ecosystem still lacks an impressive array of industry-specific, enterprise-grade apps.

"iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98% of the Fortune 500 and over 92% of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today," Cook said.

"For the first time ever we're putting IBM's renowned big data analytics at iOS users' fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver."

The deal is somewhat ironic considering the two companies' history with each other. During the personal computing wars in the late 20th century, the two firms could easily have been classed as enemies. Thirty years ago, Apple railed against IBM in its famous ‘1984' TV commercial, in which Big Blue was painted as an overbearing big brother-like figure and the Macintosh was portrayed as the route to freedom.

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