Tuesday's deal between Apple and IBM was "brilliant," one analyst said, while others called it a huge win for the former, which now gets into the enterprise through the front door rather than having to sneak in through the back.
"This is a very big deal for Apple, which just outsourced a high quality sales, support and service organization in the likes of IBM," said Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research. "What's brilliant about this is that it lets Apple preserve its focus, but partners on a large scale with someone who can totally represent them in the enterprise."
The Apple-IBM partnership was announced with joint press releases and an interview on CNBC with CEOs Tim Cook and Ginni Rometty, after the stock market closed. The deal, which is exclusive, will meld IBM's big data and analytics capabilities with Apple's iPhone and iPad.
IBM will sell the Apple devices; craft more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions that will include native apps; optimize its cloud services for iOS; package device supply, activation and management services; offer financing and leasing plans; and provide on-site support to customers. Apple will handle telephone support with new AppleCare options designed for enterprises.
"It's huge, it's landmark," Cook said in the CNBC interview. "This is all about transforming the enterprise."
"This is all about unlocking mobility in the enterprise," countered Rometty.
Analysts applauded the deal, and generally saw Apple getting more from it than IBM.
"Apple has gained tremendous traction with enterprises, but it's primarily the result of end users bringing the devices in, and only secondarily from CIO or IT initiative," said Charles Golvin, formerly with Forrester, but now the principal analyst at Abelian Research. "This deal changes that, and as a result adds enterprises to the other forms of investment — monetary, informational, temporal/experiential, social — that secure loyalty to the Apple ecosystem."
Several others also pointed out that while Apple has made large inroads into enterprises, first with the iPhone, then with the iPad, it did that through the figurative back door as employees brought their devices to work and first demanded support from their companies' IT departments, then access to the corporate digital infrastructure and the information stored there.
"This is all about Apple getting into the enterprise," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "Apple has market-owning strategies in the consumer space, but it's not been able to convert that into strategies for the enterprise. Now Apple has an advocate in the enterprise."
"It legitimizes the iPhone and iPad as business tools," echoed Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. "This really says to IBM customers, 'If you want to be able to get to the big back end with mobile, Apple is the one. IBM will provide a complete solution.'"
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