The pair have a troubled relationship. Big Blue, and Microsoft, were one of the targets of Apple’s famous 1984 marketing campaign. IBM was supposed to be the outfit protecting the locked in status quo while Apple’s Macintosh provided a pathway to freedom with locked in products.
A decade later, IBM and Apple entered into an alliance to produce a computer operating system to rival Microsoft Windows.
Dubbed Taligent, it was axed and Apple to bought Next, bringing back Steve Jobs into the company.
Jobs made two other partnerships with IBM back in the 1990s. Kaleida, spent several years failing to develop interactive CD-ROMs. Then there was the AIM alliance, hoped to build a rival platform to Intel’s personal computer. That created the PowerPC chip it produced would run Apple’s Macs for several years but the platform really went nowhere either.
This new glorious partnership to help companies deploy wireless devices and business-specific applications to run on them.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty were doing their best to be best buddies when they announced the tie-up.
Cook said: “If you were ‘building a puzzle’ the two companies would fit nicely together with no overlap. We do not compete on anything. And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself.”
Rometty said the team-up will allow the two giants to sort out serious problems that had been inhibiting deployment of wireless in the enterprise.
In the deal IBM will use its investments in big data and analytics plus cloud computing services and mobility. Last year developed mobile software for the enterprise with an initiative it called MobileFirst. In working with Apple, it has created an extension, dubbed MobileFirst, for iOS.
The deal means IBM and Apple will develop more than 100 industry-specific applications that will run on the iPhone and iPad, including applications for security, analysing corporate data and managing the devices themselves. Jobs’ Mob will add a new class of service to its AppleCare program and support aimed at enterprise customers.
IBM will sell iPhones and iPads to its corporate customers and will devote more than 100,000 people, including consultants and software developers, to the effort.
The enterprise software will run on IBM’s cloud infrastructure or on private clouds. Data for those applications will co-exist with personal data like photos and personal email that will run on Apple’s iCloud.
The move will get Apple into the business sector, a sector which has never liked it much, by using IBM software to replace the holes in its own efforts. Big Blue, on the other hand, gets popular hardware it can provide to its business customers after flogging off its own to Lenovo.
All this depends on history not repeating itself.