The IBM partnership makes Apple a real enterprise player in retail

“Just two days after I wrote on these pages that Apple had some cause for concern in the consumer marketplace, it announced its partnership with IBM,” Paula Rosenblum writes for Forbes. “Emily Litella used to say on Saturday Night Live, ‘Never mind.’ Whatever ground Apple might or might not lose in the consumer space, it will make up in the enterprise computing space.”

“The importance of this deal cannot be overstated, particularly in industries like retail and healthcare, where virtually every employee needs access to some form of device or computer,” Rosenblum writes. “CIOs will tell you that Apple is not particularly ‘enterprise friendly.’ That doesn’t stop anyone from buying iPads or iPhones for their personal use, but it creates real problems for already beleaguered IT departments.”

“Even though some might have thought reports of an imminent problem for Apple in the consumer space were overstated, Apple was already working to improve its position in the enterprise,” Rosenblum writes. “That’s how winning companies do it.”

Read more in the full article here.

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  1. “creates real problems for already beleaguered IT departments.”

    What that really means is that IT departments would have to spend a bit more time away from the water cooler…

    1. It seems that Apple has fairly good tools for IT. Businesses can remotely control iOS devices. They can directly install apps, configure email, and remotely wipe devices. Perhaps it is that the tools are different from what they’ve learned.

      1. The problem is not Apple’s Mac OS. The problem is that at least some of the 3rd party software that many/ most businesses rely was written for Windows. The only way for Apple to incentivise 3rd party developers to optimize their software for the Mac is for Apple to work really hard to increase Mac market share. (Yes, I said market share, because it DOES matter to platform health). Because Cook has spent all is efforts on iOS, the Mac has not had the marketing and development push in should have had to gain significant more attention in enterprise markets. Couple that with Apple’s refusal to offer a line of inexpensive eMac-like machines for bulk purchase, instead making iMacs non-upgradeable and non-user-upgradeable, and most corporations will find the hardware switchover costs and risks unattractive. The only people who can change this perception is Apple leadership, and instead Cook announced this month that he wants to partner with IBM to have iOS attempt to displace Windows-based stuff in the enterprise. Again, all it takes is one mission-critical process or program to make iOS a non-starter in an organization. Macs would be the better sell, if only Cook believed in that platform.

        1. With Google’s partnership with Sprint, the Apple-IBM partnership has an uphill battle ahead of it. Consider that the Chromebook is doing well relatively speaking in both Education and Business uptake and add how integrated Android/Chrome is to the Google Apps/Cloud backend.

    2. I was in an org that had 18,000+ employees mostly running windows machines, but a small group of us Mac users refused to change so the IT department stated we were on our own. A few of us were good with Mac’s, so they were our own IT department (not a group of hundreds required for the PC’s). We maintained the s/w, kept up with changes in the networking so we looked like PC’s to interface with the networks, and fixed any problems (which were very few). While PC users were cussing at their machines waiting to start up or update the latest s/w, our Mac’s were running just fine. Every time we heard a PC user complain they hate their computer, of course our response, ” get a Mac”.

  2. It’s not hyperbole to say that the importance of this deal cannot be overstated. In a couple of years, we will look back to this announcement as the reason for the dominate position in the corporate space that Apple is about to assume.

    1. At that point, unfortunately, we will have been forced to endure two years’ worth of grousing about the matter from reactionary market forces, and a parade of picayune objections from merchants of doubt. But after the two years, everything will be sweetness and light for a brief period. Like, a week.

        1. So it looks like, from now on, Forbes readers must factor in the Hong Kong investor group perspective, whatever that is.

          Damn, it’s getting hard to extract any actual intelligence from the Internet, without applying a series of Bayesian filters based on an increasing number of factors that could create reporting bias.

          Not that Forbes was ever the model of journalistic purity.

  3. This is yet another piece in the Apple puzzle. It’s like they are putting all the edge pieces together and we are left to try to guess the picture. Then one day boom they swoop in with all the other pieces and it all seems so obvious.

      1. 1. They missed on earnings and increase in EPS was only 4.6%. How can a 31 P/E be justified? Yes, they are hiring a lot of people and working on interesting projects, but so is everybody else. Has any of these projects provided any winners? What about some of the most recent attempts? Glass is an utter failure. Motorola products were rejected. Their social network has failed. Chromebooks haven’t taken hold, etc. What about their so-called successes? Their Android partners are not happy, their advertisers are not happy (sounds like a revolt is brewing) and Apple will eventually replace their search engine, etc. etc. A 31 P/E?!? – clowns investing in clown cars.

        2. Their stock was up 3.72% on Friday, so for the year it is only up 6.3%. AAPL is up 19.18% YTD with some dividends thrown in there somewhere.

    1. Atlas shrugged… No, I meant Wall Street shrugged. Shrugged and yawned. On the other hand, Google was given a $25 round of applause for doing all the things Apple doesn’t do. I’ve no intention to second-guess Tim Cook leadership but it would be nice for Apple to get a search engine and take a few of those low-hanging dollars that Google seems to be getting in abundance every quarter.

      However, Wall Street is going to go over all of Apple’s numbers with a fine tooth-comb and anything that disappoints them is going to knock Apple’s share price down from what it is now, 7 for 1 split be damned.

      1. Apple has a great search engine. It’s called Siri. Checks lots of places and Google does not get to display any ads for income.
        Just saying. 🙂

  4. Dumbest article in ages. Author thinks IBM will exert pressure on Apple to avoid innovation. Apple behave yourself so the CIOs (Orifaces) can tell people what they need to use… how far behind the ball can you get. IBM came to Apple, Cook and the “other” CEO strolled around Infinite Loop not midstate New York.

  5. I want to believe, but:
    This is all being way over simplified. Apple has made an attempt or two in the recent past to enter the enterprise market place, and has presented great software and hardware product, but in the end, they abandon all of it. Personally I’m a huge Apple fan and believe that Apple has the stuff for enterprise, even without IBM, but they have a really terrible track record for follow-through. The last go around, i.e., XSAN, they almost immediately had a foothold in what has traditionally been a non-Apple arena. Even die-hard MS server environmentalists were becoming impressed with the quality at the price point that Apole was offering – longer story shorter, Apple bailed. In spite of my strong propensity toward all things Apple, I’m afraid I will be very slow to ever again get on board, corporately, with Apple’s enterprise offerings, even with an IBM proxy. Not because Apple, and in this case, Apple/IBM, can’t’ deliver, but because – if every little and big thing doesn’t go Apple’s way, they’ll bail. What Apple did, under Steve’s watch mind you, was unconscionable.

    I hope it works out, because, in spite of all the optimistic talk about Apple in enterprise, Windows infrastructure still dominates, bar non, the world’s networking infrastructures, and personally, I’d like to see some serious diversification in this area. Linux, et. al. are present, but aren’t reallynmaking a significant difference – and, the server platforms tend to dictate what the desktop will be.

    Second point: If Apple/IBM does make a real commitment to enterprise, then I hope Apple already has a vision, if not a plan, to have two branches, one to the consumer and one to the corporate consumer. I believe this has been a major, internal conflict of interest at Apple since day one.

    Go Apple, but don’t tease enterprise, it’s very bad business. I want Apple to succeed in enterprise, but I won’t be burned twice. This time around Apple is going to have to well prove its commitment before I ever again recommend more than case-by-case, desktop workstation solutions.

    I want to believe, I really do.

    1. I agree with most of what you said.

      I can only add that Jobs called CIO’s ‘orifices’ but Cook used to work for IBM (12 years) and Compaq — I suspect they look at enterprise differently and hopefully Apple’s attitude will change for the better for enterprise (without losing their consumer punch).

  6. “Apple is not enterprise friendly”? How is it not enterprise friendly? All the tools are out there. Apple runs itself on Macs,iPhones, iPads, just fine as an enterprise business. It is mainly the old school IT managers who think Apple products are not enterprise friendly. There are applications for Macs out there to do anything for any business. And the reliability and the fact that you won’t be fighting the virus and malware war means more productivity. So let’s put that unfriendly FUD to rest.

    1. Apple is not considered “Enterprise Friendly” for two main reasons (there are many, many more than just these two):
      1) Historical: You have to look no further than Apple’s server implementations and strategies. Apple’s AUX server was a decent animal then Apple killed it with virtually no warning and left many enterprises hanging. Apple’s XServe was a fantastic piece of hardware/software. Oracle even promoted it for a while as the most cost effective way to deploy its systems. Apple killed it with little warning.

      Enterprises don’t want to install back end hardware that will be discontinued without a forward path. Apple has done this several times in the past.

      2) Forward Looking: Enterprise IT departments want to be able to show their “roadmaps” to higher ups. They want to be able to say, “Next year we’ll do “XYZ” and the benefit will be “ABC”. We’ll need $$$ to do that. Then two years from now we’ll be implementing “xxx” and the benefit will be “aaa”. We’ll need $$$$ in the budget to implement that.” The big enterprise supporting companies (IBM, HP, etc.) give the enterprise IT departments roadmaps that stretch out 2-5 years. This allows those IT departments the ability to project forward like they feel they need to do. It does not matter that every year those roadmaps change. They still feel (and their companies’ most senior managements feel) they need to make those projections for going forward.

      Apple’s inherent (and deeply ingrained) secrecy about future products (even products coming out in a few months) is the direct opposite of what IT departments expect from an organization that supports them. How can you tell management what you’re going to implement in 2 or 3 years if your vendor won’t tell you what they’re most likely to have for sale at that time?

      Therefore they don’t see Apple as “Enterprise Friendly” at all. No IT department in the Fortune 500 considers Apple “Enterprise Friendly”. Sure, they support Apple through BYOD, and many have limited deployments of Apple hardware/software. But *NONE* of them consider Apple “Enterprise Friendly”.

  7. Nothing will come out of this CEO photo Opp, Apple in the end will do all of the heavy work, IBM and Motorola were duds when Apple teamed up with them in the past, nothing has changed.

  8. A lot of the success will depend on IBM’s ability to grow the business and deliver.

    Where IBM is already entrenched its a no brainer. For companies already heavy invested in SAP and other IBM competitors the ball is in IBM’s court to win their business at this point.

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