10 Keys To The Apple-IBM Partnership

What You Need To Know

Apple and IBM Tuesday surprised many in the tech world with the news of their new partnership.

But the ripple effects have yet to be felt at IBM and Apple and at many of their competitors. For partners of those companies, uncertainty over the role, if any, they will play looms large.

Here are 10 take-aways from the Apple-IBM deal.

Making A Match Point

Apple is the maker of the best-selling smartphone on the market in the iPhone 5S, according to market researcher Counterpoint, and is the leading vendor in tablet market share, according to IDC.

IBM has long had an established portfolio of enterprise IT security products and services and recently acquired Fiberlink, a market-leading mobile device management vendor.

What IBM has in enterprise presence, it lacks in mobile hardware. And for Apple, despite being a mobile hardware leader, iOS’ popularity comes more from the consumer market.

Apple Pushing Into The Enterprise

Starting this fall, IBM will be a distributor of Apple mobile devices behind its new MobileFirst offering, lending more than 100 industry-specific enterprise applications, including customized software, to high-end iOS smartphones and tablets.

Apple’s iOS apps and devices will be tied to IBM’s analytics offerings, cloud services, and integrated security management, making it a potential mobile enterprise monster.

Partners of both Apple and IBM have called the deal surprising but have expressed concern over a lack of communication from the two companies. As one Apple partner put it, IBM can now be seen as Apple’s biggest reseller.

Apple's Not Just A Consumer Item Anymore

Partners say that in the past, customers have viewed Apple products as a consumer item, making conversations revolving around business solutions "difficult."

The problem for Apple partners is that it appears they are now competing with IBM, as iPhones and iPads that are stocked with IBM solutions through this partnership may not be sold through the channel.

One partner described Apple's communication with partners overall as "hot and cold," and complained that partners' involvement, if any, "has not been communicated."

Impact on Microsoft

Apple and IBM will be targeting the same user base that Microsoft is going after. The Apple/IBM partnership has the potential to hurt Windows Phone's ability to penetrate the enterprise.

Microsoft has been pushing its mobile operating system to the enterprise for quite some time, and another major competitor was the last thing it needed.

Impact On Google Android

Google has been hard at work trying to boost its enterprise appeal.

During Google's announcement of Android L at Google I/O last month, it also said that Samsung is adding its KNOX security platform to Google in order to better Android's security offerings for all Android devices.

Prior to that, Apple CEO Tim Cook joked at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in early June that Android "dominates" the mobile malware market.

With Apple boosting its enterprise appeal by partnering with IBM, does Google become an even less attractive enterprise option?

Samsung's Forecast Looks Cold

Potentially losing enterprise market share is not something Samsung needed.

When posting disappointing second-quarter earnings estimates earlier this month, Samsung noted that its Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets weren't selling as well as expected. It also noted its entry- to midlevel smartphones were struggling against new competition in international markets, likely referring to the rise of Lenovo and Huawei overseas.

What's To Come Of BlackBerry?

BlackBerry may be in for a world of hurt here.

BlackBerry shares were down almost 12 percent at closing on Wednesday, one day after the Apple and IBM partnership was unveiled.

IBM and Apple will be targeting the same audience that BlackBerry needs to sway in order to turn the company around. With IBM's recent acquisition of Fiberlink, its security offerings are attractive, especially when packaged in the market leading iPad or iPhone.

Enemies No More

Apple and IBM have been longtime rivals until now.

It's been 30 years since Apple's famous "1984" commercial running against IBM. Now the two giants in the industry will be working together to make each other better, aiming to take market share from competitors.

One IBM partner stated that times have changed, and it's no longer out of the norm to see an IBM executive using an Apple mobile device.

Tim Cook vs. Steve Jobs

Solution providers in the past have described Tim Cook as "riding Steve Jobs' coattails," citing a lack of innovation.

Now, it would appear they would have to retract that statement, as many believe the legendary former CEO of Apple would have never shook hands on a partnership agreement with IBM. The IBM deal is Cook making a decision out of his own playbook.

Partners agree this deal makes Apple's devices more appealing to people in business but does not appear to help them directly as IBM is the direct seller.

What's Missing In The Deal?

Laptops. Neither Apple's Mac OS X, nor its line of MacBook Pro laptops, have been mentioned.

The connectivity features between OS X and iOS are quite attractive so by not including Apple's laptops in this deal, Apple may have missed out on making this deal even bigger than it already is.