IBM Agrees Deal With Apple To Develop iOS Apps And Sell iPhones And iPads

IBM and Apple promise to redefine mobility by bringing enterprise tools and custom apps to iOS, along with a new sales and support agreement

Apple and IBM have agreed a wide-ranging partnership in which IBM will bring its cloud, analytics and mobile management services to iOS, and supply customers with iPhones and iPads running industry-specific applications.

The two companies claim the partnership will “redefine” the way businesses operate by solving the most important mobility challenges, allowing them to become more efficient.

“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,” says Apple CEO Tim Cook. “This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver.”

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IBM says it is already working on “hundreds” of applications, targeting the retail, healthcare, banking and transportation sectors, and the first ‘MobileFirst for iOS’ apps will appear this autumn, with more to follow in 2015.

These apps will make use of the MobileFirst Platform for iOS, which will provide businesses with IBM’s analytics, cloud storage, security and mobile management capabilities, allowing them to deploy custom applications to employees through private app catalogues.

iPhones and iPads running both the IBM-developed applications and the mobile platform will be offered directly to IBM customers, with Apple providing remote support and IBM offering on-site management.

“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,” adds IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. “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.

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“Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

Apple claims that more than 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and 92 percent of the Global 500 use iOS devices, and the IBM deal will give the company a major boost ahead of the launch of iOS 8 later this year, which comes with a number of features aimed specifically at the enterprise.

These include pass code protection, VIP threads, automatic out-of-office emails for Microsoft Exchange, support for third party document providers in iCloud and expanded document management for books and PDFs – something which is seen as vital for the education sector.

While the deal may come as a surprise to some, this is not the first time that IBM and Apple have worked together on the iPad. In 2010, IBM launched Lotus Notes for the tablet, allowing users to share their email, calendar and contact information between the iPad and Lotus Domino servers.

Further back, although Apple repeatedly poured scorn on the Windows PC which originated at IBM, the two actually collaborated in the 1990s to try and unseat the powers behind the Windows PC – Intel and Microsoft. Apple collaborated with Motorola in the development of IBM’s PowerPC RISC processors, which were used in Apple’s Macintosh PCs for a time, and the two even attempted to build an object-oriented Windows competitor called Taligent.

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