That Apple Super Bowl ad from 1984 more or less sums up the historical relationship between Apple and IBM—name calling, mild slander and the occasional sledgehammer thrown.
TIMES HAVE CHANGED: In the video above from 1984, Apple looked to defeat Big Brother (IBM) with the launch of simple-to-use Macintosh computers.
The world, however, is an ever-evolving place and it seems the era of likening IBM to Big Brother (among other things—the mid-1980’s were a golden era of Apple releasing ads to make fun of IBM) is over as IBM and Apple are working together to get more of IBM’s business users into the Apple ecosystem.
The two mega-tech firms announced a partnership yesterday that will see them work together simple-to-use business apps and sell iPhones and iPads to Big Blue’s corporate customers.
“In ’84, we were competitors. In 2014, I don’t think you can find two more complementary companies,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, who worked at IBM for more than a decade before joining Apple, in a joint interview with IBM CEO Virginia Rometty. “This is a really landmark deal.”
Apple and IBM are no longer in the same business of course. While Apple is still making computers, among other things, IBM actually sold it’s personal computer unit to Lenovo over a decade ago and has since moved on to focus as a software and technical consulting expert.
It is this expertise that Apple is now looking to tap into as the companies move forward to leverage both the knowledge base of IBM’s consultants and the firm’s relationships with corporate customers to create business apps that are simple to use and intuitive as the commercial applications that all employees have regular access to.
“This is about two powerhouses unleashing the power of mobility for (businesses),” Rometty said during her joint interview with Cook. “This is going to remake professions and industries.” The IBM CEO went on to note that this first step is only the beginning and that the hope is to design applications for business users that are new, innovative and truly useful.
Together Apple and IBM will work to develop a suite of over 100 total apps for a variety of industries. The first wave of those apps will hit the app store sometime this fall when iOS 8 launches.
Historically, Apple has been mainly uninterested in the business market, instead focusing on individual users (won’t want to be mistaken for a corporate Big Brother figure after all). This historical lack of involvement presents the main challenge for Apple entering the business space as precious few technology companies have succeeded as both an enterprise and a consumer brand. Apple has made some progress in this regard, but the IBM partnership could exponentially speed up and deepen it business market penetration.
“Apple is not an enterprise company, but that’s not their DNA. It is IBM’s DNA and IBM has had those relationships forever,” said Gartner analyst Van Baker, reports The Wall Street Journal. “It’s an unlikely combination but a very strong one if they can pull it off.”
According to Forrester, global business and governments spent about $11 billion on iPads in 2013—which is about a third of all tablet sales. However, the overall spend is forecasted by the research firm as likely to grow to $13 billion, outpacing the overall rate of spending growth for computers and tablet computers.
The new Apple move could also push Google—maker of the main competitor to iOS Android, to seek corporate partnerships to create a credible alternative to the IBM-Apple Juggernaut.
Google had no comment on the collaboration or their future plans for PYMNTS, The Wall Street Journal or anyone who asked yesterday.