Apple puts IBM rivalry to rest with paradigm-smashing corporate sales deal

“Apple Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. are putting aside a rivalry started at the dawn of the personal-computing era to get more businesses to embrace iPhones and iPads,” Adam Satariano and Alex Barinka report for Bloomberg. “The deal unveiled yesterday gives Apple access to an IBM sales force that will recommend Apple’s devices to customers in industries such as health care and banking, which have never been priorities for the consumer-focused iPhone maker. IBM gets a boost in a long-running effort to sell software and services to companies seeking to manage workers’ smartphones and tablets. ‘We really recognized almost simultaneously that we could be uniquely helpful to one another’s strategy and that there was literally no overlap,’ Bridget Van Kralingen, IBM’s senior vice president of global business services, said in an interview.”

“For Armonk, New York-based IBM, the alliance may aid the company’s efforts to catch up after watching other technology companies — including Apple — seize upon the growing popularity of mobile devices,” Satariano and Barinka report. “‘They’re now strongly associated with the premium mobile platform and mobile devices,’ Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said of Apple. ‘If you want to do anything interesting in the enterprise, you now have to check with IBM on what they’re doing with Apple.'”

Apple “has already recognized the potential of the corporate market, touting that its devices are used by employees at 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Deutsche Bank AG has almost 20,000 iPhones, while Siemens AG has 30,000, Apple said in April,” Satariano and Barinka report. “‘This is a shot in the arm for IBM and a great validation of Apple in the enterprise space, where they already are a huge success,’ Aaron Levie, chief executive officer of cloud-storage company Box Inc., said in an interview.”

Steve Jobs flips off IBM
Steve Jobs flips off IBM
“The partnership — announced with a press release that included a picture of Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty walking together at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California — would be surprising to those following the companies three decades ago,” Satariano and Barinka report. “IBM and Apple were bitter rivals during the early days of the PC. Apple’s famous ‘1984’ Super Bowl television commercial to introduce the Macintosh computer compared IBM to George Orwell’s totalitarian Big Brother. The competition eased as IBM abandoned the PC business and instead focused on software and services geared for corporate clients. Cook also worked at IBM for more than a decade before joining Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jobs hired Cook. Apple’s rivalry with IBM was put aside many, many years ago. Microsoft became exactly what Steve Jobs railed against in “1984.”

Related articles:
Tim Bajarin: Apple-IBM deal is bad news for Google and Microsoft – July 16, 2014
Jim Cramer: Apple wins again – July 16, 2014
Apple’s IBM alliance kills Google in the enterprise – July 15, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook’s memo to employees: IBM deal builds on Apple’s incredible momentum in the enterprise – July 15, 2014
Apple, with IBM, aims to transform and dominate enterprise computing – July 15, 2014
Apple and IBM forge global partnership to transform enterprise mobility – July 15, 2014
Microsoft to begin axing thousands of employees as soon as this week – July 15, 2014


  1. Considering that the technology sector moves faster than pretty much anything else, the only people surprised that things have changed in 30 years would be idiots.

  2. When you put the world’s most capable, most secure personal hardware together with one of the world’s best IT infrastructure groups … you get win, win, win — Apple, IBM, employees.

    1. That rivalry ended in the early 90’s after Microsoft stabbed both companies in the back….

      Apple and IBM had several partnerships; Taligent, Kaleida Labs and of course the PowerPC partnership with Motorola. Not to mention Apple used IBM’s AIX OS for their Network Servers in the mid-90’s.

    2. Sometimes the realization that a situation has changed lags the actual fact of that change. IBM was the enemy in the early 1980s. Other than Apple, Commodore, Atari, etc., PCs were defined as IBM PCs (and, later, IBM-compatible PCs). Microsoft was on board with Apple in the early- to mid-1980s until they took advantage of an Apple legal/management screw-up to begin developing Windows based on Apple technology. IBM’s influence on desktop PCs waned from the mid-1980s through the early 1990s. When Windows 3.0 was released, PCs became Windows PCs, and Microsoft became the major enemy to both Apple and IBM (remember IBM’s failed attempt to promote OS/2 ?).

      The AIM Alliance might have helped heal the Apple-IBM rift in the 1990s. The PPC architecture briefly provided Apple with CPU bragging rights over Windows PCs using intel processors. But IBM and Motorola did not work well together and PPC ended up being a dead end for Apple that seriously dragged the company down in the late 1990s and into the 2000s until the switch to intel CPUs.

      People can hold grudges for a long time. But businesses cannot afford to do so, or they risk missing opportunities and limiting their long term growth. Even Samsung and Goolge may eventually become trusted Apple partners again, sometime in the very distant future.

      1. As an old Apple II user I still remember when the Mac was the enemy. 🙂 The AIM alliance went a long way toward healing old wounds, as did Microsoft screwing both Apple and IBM (my enemy’s enemy is my friend), but the final nail in the rivalry’s coffin was IBM selling its PC business to Lenovo. Granted there were the servers, but consumers are rarely more than peripherally aware of that side of the business.

        I agree that we can hold a grudge for a long time, or at least have long memories. For instance, my first HDD (a Sider D2) contained a Seagate mechanism. It developed a bad bearing that got so loud that I often turned it off and relied on booting my IIgs from a battery backed RAM card. After that I avoided Seagate drives until last year (!) when my third WD drive in as many years went belly-up. Now I have 3 Seagates purring away.

        As for Google, I suspect Google Glass is where the Borg get their start. They’ll probably partner with (assimilate) Microsoft and have their own planet we’ll be at war with.

        Naturally the Apple IBM alliance is the precursor to the Federation.

  3. This kinda dovetails with the story about the LA school district meltdown with iPads last week….Apple clearly can’t handle large organizational deployments itself, now can hand that off to IBM. IBM gets access to a mobile hardware and software platform it needs and doesn’t have, Apple gets access to a corporate/organizational implementation and support framework it needs.

  4. Apple first ditched under-performing Motorola 68000 series for IBM PPC processors. Then Apple ditched PPC for Intel processors, because PPC were gluttons for power. And when Intel reckoned it couldn’t come up with low power chips for iOS devices, Apple to its original investment in ARM processors. As Jobs once said, “Apple is the only one that builds the whole widget.”

    1. The PowerPC chip situation was particularly annoying because IBM kept lying to Apple that they were going to come out with G5 speed chips with a low enough power consumption to be used in PowerBooks. That lie went on for years until Apple wised up and dumped PPC. IBM never did develop lower power G5 chips.

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