Apple & IBM enterprise partnership hits BlackBerry hard

IBM and Apple have struck a deal to develop business-focused apps for iPhone and iPad users, which has caused BlackBerry's share price to plummet by more than 10 per cent.

The collaboration will also see IBM sell iPhones and iPads to its customers. These devices will come pre-loaded with "industry-specific" apps for IBM clients, which could have negative implications for BlackBerry's enterprise standing.

The ailing smartphone maker has seen its position as the darling of the enterprise weaken in recent years, as users plump for competing devices from the likes of Apple and Samsung to carry out work tasks on.

Despite this, the firm has been resolute in recent months that wooing back the enterprise will play a central part in safeguarding its growth in future years.

According to a BlackBerry statement in the Financial Post, the firm is undaunted by the prospect of IBM and Apple buddying up, despite the impact it's had on the company's share price.

"[This] only underscores the ongoing need for secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions like those BlackBerry has delivered for years," the statement reads.

"Enterprises should think twice about relying on any solutiuon built on the foundation of a consumer technology that lacks the proven security benefits that BlackBerry has always delivered," it added.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said over 98 per cent of the Fortune 500 and more than 92 per cent of the Global 500 already uses iOS devices and "for the first time ever we're putting IBM's renowned big data analytics at iOS users' fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple".

"This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver," Cook added.

Among the industry areas the two firms will concentrate are retail, healthcare, banking, travel, transportation, telecom, and insurance. The deal will see apps targeted towards organisations in these sectors this autumn.

Also announced is a new support service for businesses, "AppleCare for Enterprise", which will provide round-the-clock cover and on-site service from IBM.

The deal will also see IBM cloud services optimised for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. There will also be packaged offerings from Big Blue for device activation, supply and management.

IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty said the alliance with Apple will "build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services."

The partnership between the two firms would have been unthinkable in the eighties given Steve Jobs' legendary frosty relationship with Big Blue. In the intervening years, IBM has exited the PC and server business by selling that division to Lenovo.

Apple's famous 1984 ad, aired during the Super Bowl, depicted IBM as a villainous Big Brother figure.

This story was originally published on 16 July, but was updated the following day to reflect market reaction to the news.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.