Many are marveling at the new, powerful alliance between Apple and IBM. We are too.
Of course, the most interesting aspects of the deal are the capabilities IBM can give these devices in the corporate setting. Custom software for corporate teams, customized to what people do out and about in field service, retail, health care, and so on? That’s what this deal is really about.
But what does the move mean in the ongoing battle for mobile supremacy? Tech consultant Andrew Borg thinks it’s a defensive move by Apple, a response to concerns that Google has gotten stronger in the enterprise through its cloud services. But I don’t see it that way. Instead, I think it’s an offensive move to drive more Apple devices into the workplace and get iOS accepted by the CIO crowd as the standard business computing platform going forward — the true replacement for the once-dominant Blackberry.
First of all, let’s point out the obvious losers in this announcement: Blackberry and Microsoft. Blackberry was doomed anyways and the Apple-IBM announcement had pounded another nail in the coffin. And Microsoft, with its recent reorganization, is going to be dealing with a lot of contracting pain and reshuffling. In addition, Microsoft is in deep trouble in the mobile world and anyone who has used Google Docs or Apple’s Numbers/Pages/Keynote knows that there are very strong alternatives to Office and Windows. Microsoft: How fast will you shrink?
That leaves a two-horse race between Apple and Google. Keep in mind that CIOs tend to base their buying decisions on two factors: security and homogeneity. This dynamic gives newly partnered Apple a clear edge. The Android platform has a reputation — not entirely undeserved — for security issues, so Apple has a clear advantage on that score. And with several different versions of Android operating on dozens of different devices, Google can’t compete on homogeneity either.
So, if you are Mr. Big Company CIO you can figure out which version of Android to support and then which handset manufacturer to purchase from and then which device. Or you can just choose Apple. It seems that Apple, with its shiny new IBM partnership and a user base consistently running the latest OS, may just be the better choice.