APPLE AND IBM announced a landmark partnership on Tuesday, with the two firms joining forces to make iPhones and iPads the go-to devices for enterprise customers in a deal that should have Google and Microsoft worried.
Apple hasn't been known for its stellar enterprise credentials, despite its boastful claims that 98 percent of the Fortune 500 are using iOS devices - customers it has never made much effort to win over.
Apple CEO Tim Cook admitted that the firm lacks enterprise credentials during an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, saying, "I think if we can bring the kind of transformation we've arguably brought to consumers to enterprise, I think there's a huge opportunity here.
"And we knew that we couldn't do that alone. We knew that we needed to have a partner that deeply understood all the different industry verticals that had scale, that had a lot of dirt under their fingernails, so to speak, from really understanding each of these verticals. And we found a kindred spirit in IBM. And I am so happy we did."
As Cook hinted, with IBM onboard Apple immediately becomes the strongest player in the enterprise mobile market. IT departments and businesses will likely look to the iPhone and iPad due to the reliability of IBM's enterprise software and services, which will soon be pre-loaded on iOS devices, while large firms will be able to buy iPhones and iPads through IBM, a company they likely already trust and rely on.
What's more, in the press release announcing the partnership and the new features it will bring to iPhones and iPads - which will include IBM cloud services tailored for iOS, key IBM apps and Applecare support - both firms described the partnership as "exclusive" on multiple occasions - four, in fact - delivering a huge blow to Google and Microsoft.
"We are saying these [apps and services] will be specifically for the iPhone and iPad," said a spokeswoman for IBM when asked what makes the deal exclusive. "They are the best mobile devices in the world, from our view."
This should have Google and Microsoft worried. Very worried, indeed.
Along with the launch of Android L earlier this year, Google announced that Samsung's Knox enterprise security will come pre-loaded on all future devices as it looks to enter the enterprise market too.
While this might appeal to some, Google's offering is notably lacking compared to Apple's, which will offer enterprise customers more than just software. What's more, given the large number of security flaws that crop up on Google's Android mobile operating system, it's perhaps viewed by many, including Blackberry, as perhaps not the most secure mobile operating system.
Microsoft still largely dominates the enterprise market with its Windows desktop PC operating system, but perhaps not so much when it comes to mobile, with its Windows Phone mobile operating system still struggling to gain traction three years on. The firm had amittedly hoped, perhaps more than Google, that it would remain default operating system as its corporate customers move onto mobile devices, but that isn't looking so likely anymore.
IBM's partnership with Apple sees it gunning directly for Microsoft, too. Though they were once teammates in the enterprise market, the two firms are now distant rivals.
This also creates a dilemma for Microsoft, as the firm will have to decide whether to build applications first for its own Windows Phone devices, or Apple's more widely-used iOS devices, going forward.
We would say that the deal should also have Blackberry worried, but given the Canadian firm's shrinking market share, the company likely has bigger things to worry about. µ