One of the world's largest providers of enterprise software applications and services on a "mobile-first" mission, and arguably the most well-known consumer mobile device manufacturer ever, are now collaborators. It was probably a more natural union than many imagined when Apple and IBM recently announced their partnership.
Through the partnership, Apple hopes to increase its already meaty share of the enterprise market, and IBM hopes to enable that growth through its business, device management and security applications.
Bob Fox, head of Telecommunications at IBM Global Business Services, said that Apple and IBM had been in talks for months about just what made the most sense.
"It kind of seemed obvious when Tim [Cook - CEO, Apple] and Ginni [Rometty - CEO, IBM] were together, saying that these were like two puzzle pieces fitting together with no overlap," Fox said, pointing out that Apple already provides devices for 90 percent of the Fortune 500, and around 70 percent of the use of mobile devices in the enterprise space centers around email and calendar.
"From IBM, we're an enterprise company, and I think the attraction for Apple was our knowledge in many, many industry verticals, and how do you take the pain points in those verticals and provide, not just applications...but how do you do that in a secure way and integrate that with back-end systems, and some of these kinds of things," Fox said.
As natural as the partnership was, Fox says that it took a little while to iron out the details and figure out just how these two behemoths in their separate segments could collaborate.
"I really think this was a bit of a landmark move for both of these companies," Fox said.
Specifically, a partnership with IBM lends Apple instant credibility with CIOs. And Apple gives IBM an operating system and set of devices that are capable of making day-to-day business applications friendly again.
Fox admitted that this is a project that will continue to evolve, with Apple and IBM discovering on the go just exactly how pieces of the arrangement will work, from development of new apps to customization of solutions for companies with different needs.
"That will all become clearer in the next few months," Fox said. "In the same way that Apple has changed a lot of people's lives, IBM has changed the course of a lot of enterprises, and I think that's the standard we're shooting for here is to really change the way business is done."