Apple, IBM Partnership Nails Down iOS Device Support in Enterprises

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-07-16 Print this article Print
IBM Apple announcement

The result of that attention is obvious from the changes coming with iOS 8 that support enterprise users as well as enterprise-grade security requirements. While Apple usually keeps its plans to itself, this was one time that the company opened the kimono to show its enterprise intentions. At the time, the one thing missing was a good way for Apple to deliver on its enterprise aspirations. With the IBM agreement, the company has that part nailed down.

So the next obvious question is whether the agreement between Apple and IBM threatens any other company in the industry, and the answer is: probably not. Large enterprises have been bringing in iPads into the enterprise one way or the other anyway. The biggest difference is that with IBM's blessing, those iPads (and to a lesser extent, iPhones) will find the corporate IT department to be a more willing partner.

But what about the other big corporate players, such as Microsoft and BlackBerry? The effect, if any, will likely be minor. Microsoft will retain the ubiquity of Windows and its Surface Pro 3 is aimed at an entirely different market than what the iPad serves. Microsoft Office already runs on nearly anything in the enterprise, so extending the reach of iOS devices into the enterprise only augments Microsoft's market.

While Apple has IBM's promise to deliver enterprise-grade security, it's not at BlackBerry's level yet. Only BlackBerry currently provides the level of encryption and malware resistance that some enterprises need. While other mobile device management products provide containerized security, only BlackBerry Balance has proven secure enough to allow the use of classified information. Right now, Apple doesn't have anything close.

But the fact is that the IBM partnership will mean a great deal to Apple, which until now has labored under the impression that mobile products are mainly consumer devices with enterprise pretentions. Now, it will be clear that iOS devices can exist in the enterprise with full support.

In the long term, the agreement means a lot to both companies. Apple needed to shed the impressions that it wasn't serious about serving enterprises with its devices. IBM needed a good mobile device platform that it can sell into its massive customer base.

The good news for Apple is that IBM's customers tend to stay that way for a long time, which means Apple's customers probably won't desert just because something new comes out from Google. This is a good long-term move by both companies.


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