Cringely on Apple+IBM: Meh

“Given that I used to work for Apple and have lately been quite critical of IBM, readers are wondering what I think of Tuesday’s announcement of an iOS partnership of sorts between Apple and IBM,” Robert X. Cringely writes for I, Cringley.

“There are three aspects to this deal — hardware, apps, and cloud services. For Apple the deal presents primarily a new distribution channel for iPhones and iPads. Apple can always use new channels, especially if they hold inventory and support customers who aren’t price-sensitive. Apple’s primary goal is to simply get more devices inside Big Business and this is a good way to do that,” Cringely writes. “But to Apple the cloud services are just a necessary expense associated with getting device distribution to IBM’s customers. If no cloud services actually appear or if they do appear but are useless, Apple won’t care. Same, frankly, for the IBM apps.”

Cringely writes, “The result will be that Apple wins and IBM doesn’t lose, but neither company will be seriously affected by the other. It’s just not that big a deal.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ll revisit this once we see what happens with Apple’s enterprise sales going forward.

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    1. If Google or Amazon had made this alliance, analysts would have been tripping over themselves to announce the death of Apple. “Apple completely shut out of the enterprise.” Microsoft, Google and Amazon are heavily into cloud services and Wall Street loves them but if Apple gets into cloud services, it’s meh. What gives? I think this alliance will be a good learning experience for Apple down the road and at least for now it may open a few doors they didn’t have access to before.

      1. I suspect the analysts dislike Apple because Apple has consistently proven them wrong.

        My further suspicion is the reason they’re wrong about Apple so often is that they simply stare at data and numbers and never look at the company through the eyes of an Apple user. Since Apple doesn’t have a big presence in enterprise, the users are the ones who can make or break the company and the analysts (who are used to getting all their data from enterprise sources) can’t fully grok this.

        Apple isn’t a typical computer company and until they stop evaluating it as one, they’re going to screw up their predictions.

      1. I agree. It won’t take a couple of years.

        In six months we’ll have a very strong indication of how this will work out. If no specific applications (and specific features and capabilities of those applications) are announced by then it won’t look good. If there isn’t a dramatic increase in iPhone and iPad sales to the enterprise by then it won’t look good.

        In less than a year we’ll truly see how this is going to play out. If new apps are not shipping (and WORKING!) by then it will be truly bad. If there has not been a *consistent*, *ongoing* bump in iPhone and iPad sales by then it will be truly bad.

        As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, I’m cautiously optimistic about this venture. Within six months (and maybe less) we’ll either see fruits of this arrangement or we’ll start to see the handwriting on the wall.

  1. I think Cringely is correct, but in the same breath of wind, it behooves Apple to continue to shore up strategic alliances and I do believe this is a big one. Now, they should go to work on others too. The first one that comes to mind might be Cisco.

    1. “Meh” at best, based on his history. I like how Cringely throws in the “Given that I used to work for Apple…,” as if that statement somehow lends his opinion credibility. It might carry a little more weight if Cringely stated when he workdx for Apple and what he did. But I am not going to read his article to try to find out.

      1. Cringely worked at Apple a *very long* time ago. But he has been doing extensive research into IBM, as has written quite a bit about what’s wrong with it and how it’s floundering.

        I think this Apple deal messes up his thesis, and so he’s naturally inclined to see the meh side of it.

        This seems like a huge deal to me. From the IBM name Apple gets instant validity with the stodgy corporate buyers, and IBM gets to look a lot less like dinosaur and actually have something new and unique and exciting to sell. It’s great for both sides.

    1. Please rant on. The more attention we bring to Pages the more chance that Apple will notice and turn it into an application worthy of being called ‘professional’. I use the thing for basic layouts, but that’s all.

      1. This is where IBM and enterprise apps come in. I suspect Pages is just a placeholder for one of the many professional apps we will see coming out of this alliance.

        1. Pages will evolve but I’m hoping Apple comes out with a professional office suite to blow away MS Office.

          As for apps trickling down from enterprise, I don’t see that happening. I have to wonder if we’ll be seeing any apps at all flow down from the enterprise level. There’s a lot of enterprise-only software like SAP that we mere mortals never see. Creating iOS app front ends for some of these applications could make them less user abuser and could be quite lucrative, but we’d never see them in the app store.

          I’m hoping that this alliance gets iOS devices more firmly entrenched and then gets more Macs into the enterprise space via the halo effect.

          In a business I was in a few years ago, (at my age a few years ago means 5 GB iPods were still hot) iPads with the right software would have been a godsend in production, QC, HAACP and many other lab and logistics functions. If Apple and IBM can get together and build iOS interfaces to corporate applications, that could save many tens of thousands of man-hours per year just transferring data from clipboards to computers and catch production errors before they become costly. The cost savings could be astonishing!

          And just to be clear, we did try tablet computers back then, but the technology and support applications were pathetic and we found clipboards to be more efficient and cost effective.

          Apple and IBM have a chance to make a huge impact, but only if they’re willing to spend a fortune on software development.

  2. How long ago was that time when he worked at Apple? Different time, different culture, different direction, different leaders, different goals… how can his insight today be relevant and in line with Apple today?

  3. What I always enjoy about Cringley punditry is how spectacularly wrong he has been in the past.

    I will admit that partnership announcements are never a sure thing. It comes down to commitment by both parties to live up to the terms of what’s announced, and for the sales teams of the companies to prioritize each other’s products (and services).

    That said, it’s in IBM’s interest to push Apple in the enterprise. The company has seen flat earnings for several years. Its cloud and big data services, while top notch, are under assault by smaller and more nimble competitors. And there’s the mojo factor.

    Apple is a victim of success. It’s grown so far and so fast that the law of large numbers make this hard to sustain. And the company is dealing with a Wall Street that’s like a drug addict – it just wants to snort profits like lines of coke. Anything less just won’t do. As such, Apple is constantly pressured to reinvent entire industries, not merely introduce great new products. The bar is insanely high, and Apple is held to account to a different standard than anyone else.

    So both companies have much incentive to make this succeed, and much to gain.

    The deal has the potential to blunt the ambitions of Microsoft, which slowly is coming to understand the importance of mobile, and Samsung, which wants a piece of the enterprise. We’ll see competition from the Anderson Consultings, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, EYs, Oracles and other big enterprise software and consulting companies on this.

    But make no mistake: this partnership does have potential for succeeding. The processing power inherent in today’s 64-bit iOS devices is amazing, and will only improve. With back end processing from Apple and IBM, as well as IBM’s prowess in big data, I think we’re just beginning to see the potential of iOS mobile devices.

    Sadly, all this is lost on pundits like Cringlely and Meunster. Which is why I find them to be so entertaining. Yet, I shake my head that the media will run with anything about which they blather.


    1. Just a thought….”Apple is a victim of success. It’s grown so far and so fast that the law of large numbers make this hard to sustain.”

      This law of large numbers only makes sense to idiots that cannot understand how business really works. And while its true that the bigger a business gets, the more likely it become lost in its own self. Apple keeps proving to be the exception.

      And that is critical. PS, yes Apple cannot keep generating INCREASING profits. Shortly it will have to own the world and then it must crash cause the law of large numbers….LOL Just so funny.

      The secret (just like how market share is meaningless unless you are talking Kmart and Walmart) is that its profit that is the key. As long as Apple keeps making obscene amounts of profit, it can keep growing. It does NOT have to triple profits every year, just make a lot every year.

      Just saying.

  4. MDN: you might want to iCal this or claim chowder it.

    I think it is significant that both Ginni and Tim talked about re-imagining business using words like “to the next level” (Buzzword bingo!).

    Cringely assumes business as usual – didn’t he watch the video, it’s not going to be business as usual, it’s something new and different. Tim says they are already 98% in the enterprise so why is he excited?? Can only be one thing and that’s “the next level” and whatever device(s) go with it.

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