MWC 2016: IBM Says Apple MobileFirst Partnership Is Symbiotic

IBM believes its ongoing partnership with Apple can help redefine mobile working as the two companies continue to work together on the MobileFirst platform.

The two firms joined forces in July 2014, agreeing a wide-ranging relationship that has seen IBM bring its cloud, analytics and mobile management services to iOS, and supply customers with iPhones and iPads running industry-specific applications.

IBM is hardly alone in sensing the potential in mobile working, but believes MobileFirst hands it a crucial advantage as companies can migrate processes much more rapidly.


“We are at a point in our industry where a lot of transformation happens on mobile devices first, and then goes back to the infrastructure,” Mahmoud Naghshineh. general manager, Apple partnership at IBM , told TechWeekEurope at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, “and mobile is the best way to do it.”

Naghshineh says the partnership is a symbiotic one, explaining Apple wanted to aim for ways to interact more with business and make its devices far more valuable, and IBM want to get big data analytics on to something more consumable.

“It was like a marriage…it just clicked,” he said. “You can’t find anything like this anywhere…it’s unique.”

Apple has aided IBM’s app development by opening up the features of the device within a programming model that can then be tied to the applications, such as GPS functions helping out technicians out in the field. This flexibility results in better applications for businesses, according to the companies.

“There are always challenges, but Apple has done a good job,” Naghshineh said. “We’ve got all the features we need to work with…having all those pieces orchestrated any working together, the way Apple does it, actually is a plus for us…you can integrate easier, and you end up with a higher quality app at the end of the day, as opposed to having everything up for grabs.”


Last year, MobileFirst built 102 apps across 14 industries and directly affecting 65 professions, showing the possible scale of the platform, which was doubtlessly another aspect that attracted Apple’s interest.

So far there have been 102 apps across 14 industries. The first industry-specific MobileFirst application was launched last December and Air Canada, Coca-Cola and Vodafone are among the firms using the fruits of the partnership.

“We’re changing the way that professionals work,” Naghshineh said. “The response has been overwhelming. You talk to some of the clients, and you go through this design experience with them…and when they have it in their hands, the spark that you see in their eyes is just amazing.”

While many of these applications target individual verticals, such as manufacturing or finance, IBM is pleased with the performance of its horizontal apps that can work across multiple markets and to different sizes of business. For example, ‘Expert Seller’ is used by Boots for its salespeople but can work in other sectors too.


Going forward, Naghshineh wants MobileFirst apps to take advantage of IBM’s cognitive analytics capabilities and Watson artificial intelligence platform

“It’s a natural thing to do…to make it smarter and smarter,” Naghshineh said, noting that the professionals that work with IBM are often ‘knowledge workers’ who need data and information.

“There has been no time that has been more exciting than now in this field. It’s all coming together!”

What do you remember about MWC 2016? Try our quiz!

Mike Moore

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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