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Apple Teams Up With IBM for Enterprise Push (techcrunch.com)
323 points by benstein on July 15, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments

People here are waaaay overstating the importance of this arrangement.

IBM is a services and consulting company, and as such it will sell you anything you want so long as you're willing to pay a service and support contract for it.

People are not aware that IBM has about as much in-house knowledge of Solaris and HP-UX as AIX, or Oracle as much as DB/2; customers routinely pay them to support other's software and hardware, and it's a business that works out nicely for them.

The only thing this means is that Apple will now be another official partner of IBM, with potentially some more help than usual, but believe me: if customers want IBM to support their app running Android or Windows Phone clients, you're damn sure they'll have that option and will have no issue doing the dance, though they may certainly entice you to use their partner's competition software if they can.

But from their core business standpoint, this is no more important than their current experience in using JD Edwards, RIM, Oracle, Cognos, Informix, or any of the other products through which IBM makes billions a year, directly or indirectly. And they would certainly never consider Apple hardware on the desktop for the vast majority of their customers.

This is a company with over 300000 employees worldwide, several hundreds of software and hardware partners in every possible IT subdomains, and a direct reach to tens of millions of people. This affects their regular business very, very little, which is still a core niche of banks, insurance companies, governments, military contractors and health care.

IBM has always pitched availability and throughput for multinational-class computing. This is something Apple has singularly failed at, just look at iCloud which is still sluggish and lacking in robustness. It seems to me that Apple user endpoint (terminal?) hardware with IBM service guarantees and availability in the back end works really well. Also while I agree that this is just another IBM partner, it's quite interesting to see how even the mainstream press is giving this partnership announcement a lot of front page visibility, suggesting it will be noticed by the corporate decision makers too.

>something Apple has singularly failed at


Apple has billions/trillions of iMessages/Push Notifications going through iCloud and how often have they failed ? Rarely. Also they run the world's largest media and app stores (iTunes) which again rarely fail. To say that they have completed failed at international scale web applications is a stretch.

> Apple has billions/trillions of iMessages/Push Notifications going through iCloud and how often have they failed ? Rarely.

Well, there was that 2+ year problem with sending messages to people who'd switched away from iOS (has the fix been released yet?). I'm sure most enterprise customers would consider that a serious failure.

And there happens to have been a small iCloud Mail outage this week: http://www.macrumors.com/2014/07/14/icloud-mail-outage/

So when you say rarely, I say: Compared to what? As a proportion of total message volume? Perhaps, but I don't think that's the right benchmark.

Compared to similar services from other companies selling to enterprises? That's a much higher bar. And one Apple will have trouble with (contrast the reliability of iMessage and SMS, for example).

> sending messages to people who'd switched away from iOS

For all intents and purposes "switching away from iOS" without signing off of iMessage on the device is equivalent to accidentally going off the grid. iMessage having a (IIRC) two week retention period, it'll bail out after that time. The only way Apple has to distingish between those cases is:

1. have you tell it to Apple and sign out of iMessage on the device (and its associated number on all other devices where said number is referenced)

2. use a timeout with a sensible value to delist the device (you would not want to be delisted after a too short delay, else loss of messages would make for interesting rants)

3. read your mind

It's not quite a simple as that. Firstly Apple never ask if you want to use iMessage. If you get an iphone and try sending a SMS it routes it to iMessage automatically without asking. I guess you can turn that off - I don't know how. Secondly if you switch your iphone for an Android and other iphone users try to send you iMessages, Apple could easily get back to them saying something like "We've been unable to deliver that message to the iphone that used to be there - would you like to try SMS?" but they don't. The fact this doesn't work in spite of people complaining for years suggests they may have deliberately not bothered as it discourages people switching.

That's a fair enough point — except that there's no workaround, even when it ought to be easy to provide one. It's tricky as hell to convince the iPhone to start an SMS conversation with a number that's been flagged as iMessage-enabled. Even if you receive an SMS from that number, and force-send SMSes, it still won't allow you to default to SMS for that conversation.

yep I'll acknowledge that, yet iCloud is still sluggish and unreliable. That won't cut it with big business for whom IBM's availability guarantees and service level agreements are much more rigorous. I don't think anybody has ever taken apple seriously at enterprise level robustness, is my point, and pointing to itunes and imessage is not going to persuade anybody who's running a multinational bank (or other mission critical application) that they can bet their terminals on IOS, without a partnership with a player which has proved for over 50 years that it is capable of delivering said reliability. Let's be honest. Imessage and iTunes are not mission critical to anybody in any way and thus do not do much to persuade any responsible corporate IT director, which is the target audience of this agreement.

It would be interesting if part of this were working on more enterprise integration features; for example, self-hosted iCloud sync for enterprise applications (while still respecting the user/corporation divide that they enforce on the device).

Corporate decision makers give not two shits about public opinion as far as software go; if that were the case the enterprise software wouldn't have the horrendous, dreadful UIs it has.

They surely read the excuses of trade magazines in IT, but those will care more about the next version of Oracle Financials or .NET with the same or more importance than a partnership with Apple.

Honestly, this is popular just because it suck ups to Apple fans who feel they have something to prove by Apple's involvement in the enterprise.

> if that were the case the enterprise software wouldn't have the horrendous, dreadful UIs it has

Yeah, god forbid companies developing applications that are more complex than Silicon Valley's ephemeral, featureless und useless Twitter clones where a big button "I'm special" is enough to satisfy all needs of their teenage customers.

It's not a question of 'complexity' vs. 'this app does nothing'. It's a question of usability. I've dealt with a lot of enterprise software which is almost impossible for people to use, and which has features to make life easier that no one knows about because the UI is so inscrutable and nonsensical.

It's possible to make complex, enterprise software while at the same time making good software; it just rarely happens.

I totally agree with the gist of what you are saying. Also to be fair, I think it's the first time the present generation of Apple fans have been the target/victim of IBM's highly effective sales and marketing team - who in my view do a great job.

I can remember more than a few occasions where I got swept up by IBM marketing hype and then the terrible disappointment when it came to using the actual product.

Enterprises carrying half a century old legacy systems can't keep pace with public opinion that changes with changing technologies. It takes a decade to refresh the platforms once built in enterprise and going faster only adds to their legacy.

The number 1 most valuable publicly traded company in the world is teaming up with number 24 (and number 4 in tech). Corporate decision makers will be hearing/talking about this for months.

That is peanuts when compared to the cumulative value of all of IBM's customers. In terms of plain capital management, the insurers and reinsurers that are have been their customers for the past 5 decades manage amounts of capital that are much greater than Apple's assets, or any other tech company on its own.

Seriously, people have no idea of the staggering involvement IBM has in their lives, to a much greater extent than probably any other IT company in the world.

FYI - I left big blue a couple of years ago now, but there was a slow move towards apple client hardware amongst IBMers underway while I was there, so I reckon the integration of parts you talk about there is probably quite well catered for by now.

This seems like a very smart move for both parties and is going to massively disruptive effect on the industry. It'll be interesting to see how Google and Microsoft react (especially since Microsoft seems to be finally dragging itself out of the Ballmer dark age).

It's a perfect synergy[1], with IBM having dropped hardware some time ago and subsequently, most software, in favour of open-source + prestige R&D + consultancy services. Apple on the other hand, makes some of the best hardware around and turns a good profit doing it, and they also have some of the best software UX (if not necessarily the most powerful solutions). Put the two together and it's an extremely potent combination, as long as they can pull off the collaboration effectively. Apple is already making fairly serious inroads into corporate IT since BYOD became a thing. To a lesser extent, they've been a business brand longer than they've been perceived as purely consumer-oriented, with the design industry being the only thing that kept them alive in the 90s pre-iPod-turnaround.

It will also be interesting to see what impact this has on open source, because that's something that IBM currently supports heavily so they can avoid the cost of developing a lot of common business software in-house. This partnership might herald a preference for, for example, Apple servers running OSX, over Linux.

A more positive outcome is that we're likely to see significant improvements in Apple software to meet needs that IBM clients will demand: stuff that tends to sit on a dusty shelf for years, like fixing SMB support in OSX, might start seeing some serious engineering investment by Apple.

We also might see an end to Apple's "no rollbacks" policy, which IMO is a serious barrier to adoption in corporate environments (and is a huge pain for testing). No IT department worth its salt will ever push out a possibly breaking change like an OS update without a rollback plan, but Apple actively prevents that right now. Either that, or Apple will need to up it's release cycles to match the way SaaS is typically managed and take bug reports more seriously, although probably only when they come through a priority channel reserved for corporate customers, much like how Microsoft handles "unofficial" hotfixes that don't go into Windows update.

[1] Apologies for using the word "synergy" but it really is appropriate here.

I've worked with IBM.

Your post all seems to be very consumerist. IBM sells servers. Apple does not sell servers. IBM sells their own server hardware. IBM dropped their x64/x86 servers recently.

Apple makes consumer hardware, IBM makes expensively marked up enterprise hardware.

IBM makes TERRIBLE software, apple makes shiny consumer stuff, the absolute most that will come out of this is sametime and or notes getting a small bit more attention from IBM on iOS products. Most of IBM's crap is a thinly veiled customisation on top of Eclipse, it makes me laugh thinking about how that will translate to an iOS device. IBM's server side software, while marginally better - what apple hardware is that going to run on?

IBM clients couldn't give less of a hoot about samba shares in OSX. This news will have approximately zero effect.

I am surprised that no one has mentioned the recent cringely book on IBM, which I learned about from HN.

IBM doesn't even make their own servers anymore - selling that business to lenovo (IBM only makes mainframes).

I assume this is relatively neutral for both parties, and reflects the deterioration of technical competence at IBM.

IBM will act as a giant sales arm, and apple would fulfill whatever contract IBM can land. only question is how big the scale they can accomplish together. you would think IBM enterprise is naturally large scale but not necessarily justifying largest-market-cap-in-the-world. apple's still going to need major consumer hits to keep growing.

Apple has $574bn market cap last check, to IBMs $190bn. Apple would almost need to acquire IBM to move the needle, and selfishly, as an apple-convert, i hope they aren't actually considering that.

would be a true shame for apple to stop building the consumer products of our dreams, to build some soul-less bullshit for "enterprise" courtesy of IBM. risk of the great dream dying.

also big risk of the IBM culture and mindset infecting apple.

i'm sure steve jobs would get a huge kick out of apple throwing a lifeline to IBM, thinking back to the 80s when IBM was "big blue" and a formidable technology competitor.

i could see steve going ahead with this for kicks, which is about how i think apple is going to approach it. can't harm apple if they ring-fence the work, and don't let IBM management practices become apple practices.

IBM doesn't make x86/x64 based servers, but they still make servers (IBM Power Systems) that run AIX, Linux, and i (previously OS/400).

What is Apple's next big push? Wearable (motion processor in iPhone, iWatch) sensor monitoring of humans for medical, insurance and payments (iBeacon/BT), among other use cases for lifeform surveillance.

Can Apple support the cloud analytics needed to process the large amount of human-generated, personal sensor data for the many enterprise verticals that will be transformed by this data?

IBM has invested in "Smart City" initiatives, urban-scale control and coordination. Pick your favorite sci-fi movie. There is potential here to marry the personal operating system (Apple) and the city-state operating system (IBM).

Earlier this year, IBM adopted an ARM-like approach to their Power architecture, licensing IP to "OpenPower" partners. For example, here's a $4.88 billion joint project on servers & software for smart cities in China.



The joint project with Chinese firm Sichuan Huaxun Zhongxing Technologies Co. Ltd follows their announcement on May 18 that they will build a service center dedicated to the big data and cloud computing that is necessary for smart cities.

... "Cooperation with IBM will have an immense impact on the construction of smart cities in the world and fast-track the R&D level of high-end servers in China by 10 to 20 years," said He Wenjun, chairman of Huaxun Zhongxing Technologies.

The smart city concept was invented by IBM.

In 2012, China selected over 130 cities as pilot sites for a smart city program that will explore ways to foster a new type of urbanization.


>Can Apple support the cloud analytics needed to process the large amount of human-generated, personal sensor data for the many enterprise verticals that will be transformed by this data?

No. Which is why they are looking to IBM to condense this "big data" on the server side and stream it to the iOS devices.

> IBM will act as a giant sales arm, and apple would fulfill whatever contract IBM can land

It is OK to think that way re hardware. But it is backwards re software. IBM sold off almost all their hardware divisions (laptops, printers, storage) because they make their money on services. IBM is basically a consultancy nowadays. IBM is doing what they do here: selling software consulting services and solutions that run on Apple. Apple isn't going to do any development work for this at all.

I'm developing for and using IBM Notes and I mostly agree with your post, even though it's a bit exaggerated here and there. IBM is a very top heavy organisation and this shows up a lot in their software - they follow lots of fads cough Notes social edition cough and add fancy new themes on top of everything while not improving the basic product since the mid 90ies.

Lately I've been heavily involved in a project[1] that tries to improve this situation - sort of a next generation Notes based on CouchDB, with fully relational data models, extremely fast development cycles and upcoming mobile+offline clients. Mid-term we want to offer interfaces to Notes/Domino, such that migration becomes a matter of hours per application. I'm curious to see, how IBM wants to solve the inability of Notes to be fully integrated onto iOS - their announcement didn't even mention it, it rather seems like they want to sell you expensive consulting months to create each application from the ground up using their cloud platforms. Cost-wise this will be multiple orders of magnitude off of what we're trying to offer.

[1] http://protogrid.com

"Taylor made", random capitalization of words that shouldn't be capitalized... Not encouraging when it comes to a would-be paid service.

Taylor is a proper noun (a name), the actual word they wanted was tailor, like a clothing maker, "tailor made", made exactly for you.

That's exactly my point.

> IBM makes TERRIBLE software


This deal is just a press release. I imagine that an enterprise willing to pay up for Apple hardware, is not the kind of enterprise to settle for vendor-lock in mediocrity in software, while the PHB's buying enterprise class mediocrity from IBM will not pay up for Apple hardware.

Google IBM design group.

There should be a Design Group per product, that you are on rotation split across everything is typical of IBM, and it shows, although the current approach at least leads to consistent results.

I wonder how many reports Jony Ive has to him compared to his equivalent number in IBM.

And at the pinnacle of the "perfect synergy" will be the C-levels and execs saying "This <industry specific iOS app> is awesome for my world wide safesforce! Now how do I export all the data to Excel?"

This initiative probably has the MS Office 365 marketing people salivating.

It's quite easy to export moderately sized data sets to xlsx.

The trick is to allow the analysis to happen within the app, and not as vlookups and pivot tables in Excel (as the user is more comfortable with).

Ultimately, this is Microsoft's failing as Excel should have become a cloud/server-powered think-desktop/tablet app a long time ago with versioning and multi-user support. Sure that existed back in the late 90s with ODBC and data links, but it was too fragile and was not significantly improved in the decade and a half since.

Some of the capabilities they have now with PowerView/PowerPivot/Hadoop are technically impressive.


Numbers (Apple's spreadsheeting software) is with the exception of macros fully compatible with Excel. And like Office 365 is also online.

Not quite. Macros are probably the biggest thing that's missing, but there are others.

Some documents that I've prepared in Excel with complex (meaning not all that complex) don't come into Numbers properly (a stacked bar with one series as a line, for example).

I'm a daily users of Numbers and I can say unequivocally it is not quite close enough. They get 90-95% percent of it right. It's that last 5% that always give me headaches when I export an xlsx.

It's not just the macros but 100s of little things that break compatibility.

If you use Numbers with Excel for anything but the most basic spreadsheet list you are going to have a bad time.

Transition from Excel to "something else" merely has to be not much worse than transition from Excel 20?? to Excel 20??. Or even if it is worse, be worth the pain.

Its something of a stereotype but generally Excel to "something else" is less painful than old Excel to new Excel.

While I defend "disruption" as a thing, that happens sometimes, I don't think this is it.

What Apple and IBM have really done is join an ongoing movement, something that has been going on for years. People already have these iPhones in their pockets, these iPads on their desks, and they very naturally have been integrating them with their life-and-business processes.

Sure, Google would love to have the IOS cache, but this deal more reinforces IOS market dominance than "disrupts" it, the leader.

Yes, it's the "ongoing movement" to mobile that is disruptive. This agreement is just part of it.

It's not even a technical change for Apple... the same devices, used in the same way (I think they'd fail brand-damaging if they tried to suddenly be "enterprise", you need "dirt under your fingernails" as Cook said).

However... the imprimatur of IBM will open the floodgates for all those enterprise VP waiting for a sign that it's time to switch. (Just as the IBM PC did for personal computers?). Suddenly, the herd of VPs will place orders, each massive in their own right, overwhelming even Apple. That's the budget that previously was allocated to desktops/laptops...

So, in a market sense, this is arguably the key to the disruption. And looking back, the moment the dam breaks might well be seen as the disruption (rather than the warning drips and trickles). Certainly the most consequential.

Sorry, but this all depends on an assumption I question: "normal people don't really need desktops".

It shows up over and over again, but its a failure of reasoning: on average no one uses any specialized software on a desktop, just a web browser and spreadsheet. But the average is not a real person to start with. All the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of bits of custom code people use to do their jobs do not easily translate to locked down mobile environments. Heck, ask anyone using Excel for a lot of work: there's more VBA out there that's utterly vital then anyone would care to admit.

If Apple aren't breaking into enterprise with Macs, they're not going to somehow manage it with iOS except in the same space they always have.

Agreed Apple won't win the Enterpise. But IBM already has.

Agreed tablets won't replace desktop completely - just as desktops didn't replace mainframes completely.

I imagine a normal distribution, over how much PC functionality is needed, by how many people. On the left, people who hardly need a PC - they've already switched to mobiles. Then the middle, the average, where they need a spreadsheet/word processor (to varying degrees). Finally, on the right, tapering off into specialized domain software (including your VB scripts), CAD/CAM, simulation, desktop publishing, animation, visualization etc. This is the long tail you mean, where each person requires a different subset of functionality.

There'll be a process of adoption, step-by-step, left-to-right, which eventually will get stopped (perhaps at spreadsheets?). The question is whether IBM can create apps that really do meet their customer needs well enough to displace desktops. There are many roles where they can.

And if we look at degrees of usage, perhaps if some role only needs occasional spreadsheet access, they might have one PC in the office (instead of one on each desk). Or, rearrange job roles so specialist does that. Or, perhaps google spreadsheets are "good enough" for their use. Or maybe some specialised app, with their exact subset of functionality will rise to the fore - that will actually be better for their specific use, because customized to it... today, software is far cheaper to build than when spreadsheets became standardized and ubiquitous.

One last data point: it could be that iPads become desktops. Add a keyboard and mouse and a stand... This isn't disruptive of the usage, just of the supplier!

The data point is that that's how I use my phone, with a bluetooth keyboard. I'm using it now. I do most of my programming and ssh on my phone now. It is awkward in some ways (mainly, the bt keyboard sucks), but mostly is more convenient than my desktop.

So maybe this isn't really "opening the floodgates" as I first said, just the beginning of a trickle, as IBM starts to displace desktop usage in the enterprise, role by role.

How exactly iOS is the leader? Do you mean mindshare or marketshare? Perhaps among developers? Or US middle-class?

Besides this being just a traditional PR move by both companies (Apple doesn't have traction in the enterprise market, except for CEOs wanting the IT dept to support their iPhones -- and IBM doesn't have traction in the consumer market, nothing could be more boring than IBM products), this is two companies with cultures on opposite extreme sides of the spectrum.

Ol' Stevie would probably be very angry.

I personally (redundantly) am an android/linux user, but I perceive that iPhone and iPad are accepted in rich and powerful circles, and are precisely the market for an IBM effort.

I don't think IBM wants to sell _both_ a corporate data initiative and a new phone at the same time.

I don't mean that this move in itself will be disruptive in that sense, but rather that it is going to force the rest of the market (including the current leaders, especially Microsoft) to do disruptive things to compete.

Sorry to correct you but IOS with a capital I is Cisco's operating system for their devices.

iOS with a small i is Apple's OS for their devices.

They went to court over the difference, so it is important (to them at least :-)

thank you, noted.

There are a lot of places that cannot or will not, and might never support, BYOD.

In those areas, and many other corporate enterprise areas, Apple is on is already on its way out, specifically because they never really integrated or put any special effort on integrating with the existing corporate infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has used this time that Apple squandered to finally catch up for the most part.

A lot of large corporations gave Apple a chance 5 years ago and nothing ever really came of it. They will not be getting another chance any time soon.

I'm not sure what industries you work in, but it's Apple that, in the last 5 years, has made inroads into corporations that 5 years ago wanted nothing to do with them, and were completely dedicated to their blackberries. I assure you, for better or worse, those corporations have not replaced their blackberries with windows phones or android systems, and in the tablet division, there is only one player, the iPad. Good Technologies shows that Apple now has north of 90% penetration in Fortune 500 companies.

Samsung's Knox Platform is likely going to bring a lot more competition to bear, particularly now that Google has partnered closely with them - so things are certainly going to heat up soon.

I'm always curious about the 90%+ numbers.

Does that mean 90%+ issue Apple devices to some employees? Or simply support (or tolerate? Or turn a blind eye to?) using them on the corporate network and/or corp email? Or something in between?

Tolerate / in-between.

Corporates tend(ed) to use Blackberry for their management / key people. Those people tend to use Apple and Android for personal use.

(Big) Corporates tend to use IBM for data intensive / traditional mainframe roles (transaction processing, etc). Big ticket stuff.

(Big) Corporates tend to use Exchange. Great chance to cross-sell a now internal product, Blackberry, which was already approved by information security obsessive corporates. But Blackberry is unpopular, BBN its only selling point.

IBM now say 'Apple is OK too, we trust them'. Said executives now demand an iPhone / iPad app, which in reality was already developed 2-4 years ago, but only distributed to people in information security / in-the-know because they really wanted it and could get it. As Apple can now be cross-approved on the same terms as IBM, vendor approval is easy.

Not release a cooperation agreement, but this has been in the works for several years. Apple gain a lot. Not sure what IBM gain... perhaps cloud agreements with Apple? Perhaps support agreements, perhaps something much bigger?

This is a good article: http://www.cio.com/article/2378782/infrastructure/new-enterp...

"The Good Dynamics Secure Mobility Platform currently manages iOS, Android and Window Phone devices, so these are the only platforms included in the report. BlackBerrys, for example, are managed via BlackBerry Enterprise Service/Server (BES) or directly via Microsoft Exchange; as such, they're not represented in Good's report."

"Talking specifically about tablet activations, iPads made up 91.4 percent of all activations, while Android represented just 8.6 percent of tablets activated by customers."

The whole point (in the short term at least) of teaming up with IBM is to sell iOS devices by the hundreds or thousands to enterprise clients that might otherwise not accept BYOD.

Apple has already been doing a lot of work over the last couple of years geared towards making iOS more acceptable to enterprise and we're clearly going to see even more progress in that direction.

Say what you will about the quality of IBM's software and services, IBM probably understands enterprise-scale IT better than anyone else. A lot of that knowledge is now going to be transferred to Apple, as iOS and the related infrastructure is brought up to the standard that IBM clients will demand for this to work.

Relying on IBM for enterprise support? My expectation is they will not be able to live up to the level of quality expected when Apple's name is attached. Much like HP, IBM has outsourced a lot of their support arm and companies I know who had moved their IT support to HP are now bringing it back in house. I expect the same pattern would hold if one adopted IBM.

Cringely is very clear about the charades IBM is playing to maximize the short term buck.

IBM makes some of the worst front end software in the world. Lotus Notes, Rational Rose, Doors etc. Deeply nested menus, one level of undo, zero to negative OS integration, bugs that never get fixed, unsearchable documentation, bloat upon bloat, everything that gives enterprise software a bad name.

I wonder whether Apple will bring IBM up or will IBM bring Apple down on that front.

To be fair, lotus notes was awful before IBM bought it.

No, no it really wasn't. It had some well-earned respect, and was innovative. It offered power to the users that was unheard of in those days, allowing them to spin out their own discussions and applications without needing software developers to help out. It clustered, it scaled, it had granular levels of security that still hold up today. It was used to build online communities in the days when dial-up BBSes were the norm.

While the UI of its client sucked compared to anything we see today, those were the days of Windows 3.1. Everything sucked back then.

It has aged poorly. But it had its place, and its time.

Really it was. I used it before IBM bought it and it was awful. Good technology but execrable UI.

I used Informix 11 inside Cisco CM and it seemed alright, although their syntax for returning data from stored procedures seemed odd (they returned data by shoving it into variables and then calling return multiple times in a loop instead of just returning a "set" data type) but that could be my unfamiliarity with it.

Those SPs were pretty massive too, hundreds and hundreds of lines long, calling other hundred lines SPs.

I actually really liked workplace shell in OS/2, though question is - was that the IBM or Microsoft side of the house.

I think it was done by IBM. As a side note, I think a lot of the memory consumption of 32-bit OS/2 comes from it.

I wanted to immediately shout, "now THIS is something SJ would be rolling in his grave over." However, in the mid 2000s he was a big believer in switching to Intel and even though I found it hard to believe a company that pushed PowerPC for so long was suddenly so willing to join "the dark side" at the time.

His Intel switch bet played off for Apple and I imagine this bet by Tim Cook will also play out for them. I look forward to having many more years of iOS work and many more years of Xcode and iOS SDK improvements :-). Stability and security will be at the top of the lists :-D

> I wanted to immediately shout, "now THIS is something SJ would be rolling in his grave over."

Don't forget the HP-branded iPods too, which was also a bit weird. That was under Steve too.

Seems like it made sense at the time [1]:

> Thanks to HP's distribution network, the iPod+HP was sold in retailers where Apple did not have any presence at the time, which included Wal-Mart, RadioShack, and Office Depot. Many of these retailers now sell Apple iPods.

In hindsight, the subsequent sales explosion makes it look unnecessary [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod+HP [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod#Sales

Rockr phone

The ROKR might well be the worst thing Steve ever showed in any of his keynotes. It was comedy awful.

The Apple Hifi must be a close-second.

The Hifi was hardly awful. It was just... a startlingly average product to merit a Steve Jobs unveiling.

Why would he be rolling in his grave?

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple his laptop of choice was an IBM Thinkpad (560E). In fact, "he delivered it to Apple’s designers as a model of where the PowerBook line needed to go."


"In 1989, IBM signed a deal with NeXT to license NeXTstep to run on Big Blue's RISC chip. But Jobs now says that while a long-term relationship with IBM will move forward, "it's no secret that the project to put NeXT software on the IBM RS/6000 has broken down."

-- http://www.kevra.org/TheBestOfNext/ThirdPartyProducts/ThirdP...

There have been numerous instances of IBM and Apple working together in the past. The AIM alliance (PowerPC) and Taligent immediately come to mind.

Taligent!.. holy crap I'm old.

The last big Apple-IBM alliance in 1991 gave the world Taligent, Kaleida, and the PowerPC:


The big Microsoft-IBM alliance gave the world... OS/2 and Windows.

I don't think IBM was ever involved with Windows.

I don't mean to be so dismissive but you kidding me right?

IBM and Microsoft signed an contract, that IBM AT clone computers would ship with Microsoft DOS and they would license (and pay for) every-single-copy of it. The openish IBM PC standard allowed for Microsoft to continually expand into their near monopoly on the Business, and Home PC market.

That agreement literally built Microsoft. When they signed that agreement, Microsoft didn't even own the rights to DOS, or had even made an OS. They just licensed a BASIC compiler.

DOS and Windows are not the same thing. One reasonable interpretation of the history is that "Windows" is specifically the point over which Microsoft & IBM diverged, with Windows being the additions/lineage where Microsoft ruled and IBM's formal contributions essentially nil.

In DOS you literally started windows as an application (not MSDOS 1.0). Windows was originally a visual file manager in MSDOS long before it was short hand for an OS/and full window manager we know today.

Yes, but what was IBM's formal involvement in any of those early versions of 'Windows'?

Neither my memory nor the Wikipedia history suggest any formal IBM role in the development of 'Windows' itself, at least not through Windows 3.11. It wasn't a joint project (though I suppose the closeness of the partnership likely meant source/fix/feature sharing behind the scenes).

Then, IBM was formally cooperating with Microsoft on something they thought would be OS/2. To the extent anything co-developed then wound up in Windows NT, that was never IBM's intent. Again, Windows was the Microsoft-controlled branch, not the partnership product.

That would roughly match the assertion by rational-future about which you were dismissive.

And in ios you literally start Angry Birds as an application ...

At the time, Windows was a GUI shell over DOS. The diverging happened when IBM and Microsoft were working on OS/2, and Microsoft decided to split and develop WinNT.

Funny. I just started @ IBM. Can't run Windows because I have privileged access to systems. Can't BYOD because same. Can't hackintosh because licensing. And officially they don't buy Macs.

So run Linux; what's the problem?

Yup, either RHEL or OpenSUSE should fit quite well into the culture.

Some weird IBM flavor of RHEL 6.5 is what they gave me. On hardware that is near top-of-the-line and thus poorly supported. I bought a docking station and it was an ordeal just to get it to recognize a monitor attached to the dock. And it crashes on undocking.

But the kicker is that my job here revolves around VMware and Windows. VMware's web client needs a newer version of Flash than you can get on Linux outside of Chrome. And Chrome dropped RHEL 6.x ages ago. And every RDP app packed with RHEL 6.x is junk compared to CoRD or RDCMan.

If I could BYOD I'd happily go buy a new MBA and IBM could toss it into a Blendtec when I'm done here.

I'm currently a fellow IBMer.

Go to w3, search for "approved OS" and take your pick. I'm currently running fedora 20 with mate desktop. Works like a charm on a T430.

> On hardware that is near top-of-the-line and thus poorly supported.

Haha, there's got to be a name for that paradox: you want to run Linux on your brand new computer, but the hardware isn't well supported.

Do you:

a) Settle for a Linux install that sometimes does weird things (on my Lenovo Yoga 2, I have to close the laptop lid and re-open it to get the computer to come back from suspend properly).

b) Settle for Windows 8?

Unless you've got the time to write your own device drivers, the MBA is the most "rational" choice for a new laptop. (IBM pun not intended.)

The last sentence is debatable. IBM Design and certain other groups with IBM Software Group have Macs. Systems doesn't though.

There's always an exception somewhere. At a previous job the IT department wouldn't buy Macs for anyone. Except themselves. They took a little too much joy in swapping my Mac for a Dell when I left IT...

IBM's level of paranoia is truly inspiring.

IBM has always represented itself as a serious company for serious, boring grown-ups. Presumably that extends to taking security seriously as well.

Back in the day, it was said you'd get in trouble at IBM if you went home with your desk not locked.

Looks like it's still the case: http://security.stackexchange.com/questions/37916/what-are-t...

Seems like that only leaves OS/2 to use.

Nobody ever got fired for buying Apple?

If you look at the way schools are buying tablets. It's pretty spot on. They could go for a cheaper Android tablets but most of them are junk or 1 step above junk.

I see very little benefit for Apple.

IBM makes complex expensive software that people are still trying to get rid of in the enterprise. Apple doesn't need a sales force for iPads, most top execs have been demanding iPads for the last 2 years already, it's just IT that's slow to adopt it because they fear loss of control with BYOD.

Only upside here is stuff like Watson and the likes. I can see IBM providing back-end services to Apple but that's about it.

IBM signs juicy hardware + software contacts with large corporations and government around the globe. They don't have a (serious) mobile offering, something their customers are asking for more and more every day to be thrown into deals and EULAs. So now the IBM salesman will have a very sexy Apple brochure in the briefcase to show around. Apple taps into a large, high margin market where 200, 000 devices deals will not be uncommon and without doing much really, no new stores, no new salespeople. The technology behind this is minimal, some security improvements, maybe a Tivoli or Rational plugin. No real disruption here, people, just lots of cash.

Right now, if you are an enterprise who is going to give every employee or retail store a device for some reason, you often go Android since it is so much cheaper and can be customized more than slapping a sled with a bar code scanner and a battery on it. This helps make Apple more competitive in the B2B arena. Traditionally they have been good just at getting to consumers.

I think Apple will get to sell a lot more devices without too much effort as the "more than 100 industry-specific applications that will run on the iPhone and iPad" will drive sales. Perhaps not as sexy as an iWatch but it could be pretty profitable.

This is Apple making an attack at Google. Microsoft is a gonner in a few years. Google was ready to take charge of their market with Google apps and cloud services.

Apple is gonna make IBM build a cloud base infrastructure with Apple User interface and QA. We are talking very high end costumers, not the typical small or medium corp. No one will be fired for buying Apple and IBM. Google, maybe.

Enterprise Cloud was one Horse race for Microsoft market. Now there are two.

> Microsoft is a gonner in a few years.

A bit more than a few years. They still have pretty good profits (Windows and Office are still quite popular,) and even if that dried up suddenly and they had zero revenue, they could quite literally live on their cash reserves for a decade.

If Microsoft goes to zero revenue, their shareholders will have different uses for the cash. Long before that point it will be dismantled.

[edit: downvotes, seriously? I'm just pointing out that Microsoft is not a private company that can do whatever it likes with its cash pile if it is not performing. I guess that is uncomfortable for some reason.]

Can you ELI5 what would be the actual impact of a huge selloff of Microsoft shares?

Who is talking about a selloff of shares?

IBM was already going head to head with Microsoft. Has been for about twenty years. Their quality was already enterprise grade, it's Apple that is trying to make a critical transition - out of the cyclic commodity consumer hardware business and into the more stable B2B markets.

The problem for Apple is their secrecy and planned three year obsolescence is unattractive at scale for large businesses. A large part of IBM's continued relevance has been from their shift toward solutions leveraging open source as well as providing customers with clear roadmaps.

Do you really believe that Google was ready to take charge of the market? Many people have a Gmail account and a YouTube account, but do you see many people using their Docs offering instead of Microsoft Office?

Without trying to sound too harsh, the problem with Google is that they have a faddish focus, and don't appear to maintain some product offerings once they are past the "look! It's NEW!" phase. If you made the recommendation to switch to Google's systems, would your manager be asking "How long is it going to be there for?". It's a pity. Do you see "enterprise" switching to systems like that? Do you see loads of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes (do they even still make them?) on desks instead of PCs? Honestly?

This is different to Microsoft's strategy where you can still run software from 20 years ago, and some businesses like only investing in software once, instead of an ongoing licensing fee. I do not see Microsoft disappearing quickly, despite how popular web apps are in startup circles; Windows still rules the enterprise desktop.

I myself write software on a Mac but everybody else here has never used a Mac and are flummoxed if presented with its desktop, and typically see Apple products are overpriced.

High end customers would involve large corporations where there would be a need for many PCs traditionally. Although iPads have become popular with BYOD, do most people just accept that it's a great consumer (consuming) device and not marvellous for creation of content? If large corporations were to switch their desktops to Apple machines, do you think the profit margin would increase or decrease?

It just isn't going to happen.

If the only thing Microsoft did was sell Excel, they would be a billion dollar enterprise software company for years.

Yes, hn, downvote the only savvy post here. HN has no enterprise depth.

Better article/interview: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101834316

I think a lot of people are missing the point here. If you look at Apple's big push into new markets (Healthkit) and the mobile market direction (possibly towards wearables) which have a huge upside when paired with a high quality health data collection market. So Apple is moving to a good position in the front end of the coming health care aware wearables market but that's not nearly as valuable as having one of the hugest backend healthcare services providers as a close partner. IBM is a huge health care cloud provider, I'm pretty sure they are the largest in fact. So imagine an end to end health care data solution, Apple controlling the actual devices and health kit based software clients and IBM gathering and storage/analysis services in the cloud. It's a huge market in the US alone and a fantastic way for Apple to gain a large chunk of the wearables market, with a better integrated end to end solution.

I have no inside info but I can't imagine that Apple isn't thinking of this as a move going forward.

They're talking about Google here but this is more of a claim against Microsoft's territory. It looks like a play to replace Active Directory and Exchange Server with device-integrated cloud services.

private cloud services. buy the big iron from IBM, everybody's phones sync to private app stores and private backup systems. Seems like a pretty swell idea, especially when you have legal security obligations like HIPAA or whatever.

Wrong. The future is mobile. This is a play against Knox/Samsung.

It should be noted that Knox is being baked into AOSP, so it's presumably in Google's hands now.

A lot of people seem to dismiss this as a bad idea, but it makes sense to me. I see it as IBM becoming the "SourceBits for Enterprise Customers" [0]. They just add another zero or two on their hourly rate and package it up into a "solution".

Also, the article mentions retail as an initial target industry. Their Websphere platform powers some big ecommerce sites [1]. Now they can go after those customers and sell them mobile retail solutions. Plus it's probably a big F&B for the sales team selling Websphere.

I'm sure the same goes for any commercial "products" IBM has for banking/travel/healthcare. Even if they just act as "implementation providers" for 3rd party products, to be able to say "choose us because we will also build you an iPad app for your BIGHealthDataSystem install" is pretty huge.

Also, this is great for iOS developers because there will be more jobs available.

Hopefully (and I'm reaching on this one), it also means IBM will create/contribute to more open-source iOS/Obj-C/Swift projects and tools.

[0] http://www.sourcebits.com/

[1] https://www.sparkred.com/blog/2013-leading-ecommerce-platfor...

Taligent anyone?

It will be interesting to see how this works out. The one thing Apple lacks is the monster enterprise salesforce that IBM has. And that may be the strongest thing that IBM has left.

I was about to say, MONEY, but then I looked at Apple's market cap and IBM's market cap...

fuck market cap. (Apple: $574.75B, IBM: $190.79B)

look at net income.

For the three months ended 29 March, Apple had $10.223B in net income. For roughly the same quarter (ending 31 March), IBM had $2.384B.

Apple is carrying $18.949B in cash and cash equivalents (though most of this is locked-up overseas), and another $22.401B in short-term marketable securities.

IBM is carrying $9.409B in cash and cash equivalents, and a mere $295M in markable securities.

I'm not sure this is a good idea for Apple which its root were always based on Consumer product. Steve Jobs hated Enterprise Market. Its fair to believe that Enterprise is an opposite site of Consumer. Their principle of requirement, design or even purchasing decision are very different. You can't please everyone. I wonder how will next i-Devices look like if they are trying to please enterprise rather than the consumer.

As I understand it, this is Apple focusing on consumer, while leveraging IBM as a strategic partner to service/support the enterprise market.

Without IBM, Apple would have to build up an enterprise sales team or cede that market to Microsoft who has an existing enterprise sales team. So, if this partnership works out it plays to both companies strengths.

Finally, Apple has been encroaching on enterprise for years, each iOS update has included enterprise specific features (central management, per app vpn, single sign on to name a few from v7 & 8).

I agree that this may be a mistake by Apple, but Jobs didn't hate the enterprise market. He may have hated it for Apple, but it was NeXT's main ambition. For example here's a video of Jobs explaining why NeXT would go after the professional non-scientific workstation market -- lawyers, medicine, database-driven apps. ie the enterprise.


Welcome, IBM.


_Logarithmic leaps_? Clearly some copyeditor was nodding off there...

...or was seduced by the siren song of alliteration.

Apple isn't doing anything that unusual here. Hardware doesn't have to be "consumer" or "enterprise" -- your PC at home and your PC at work aren't that different. It's software and sales that are very different between home and work -- IBM will layer "enterprise" software and sales models on top of Apple hardware and both players should make money.

I'd love to see Watson replace Siri someday.

I think Siri as a brand won't change, but that doesn't mean Watson can't be doing things in the back-end.

I'd love to see the two as a couple.

I think Watson's role will be more geared towards the HealthKit side of things for Apple, since that's already what IBM are putting the technology towards.

I'm surprised so few people or articles mentioned the 1984 ad, and how Apple used to think IBM is the Anti-Christ.

That ad worked because customers at the time associated IBM with the impending corporate monolith. IBM was just the whipping-boy for the larger idea. (Much like how today Apple is the whipping-boy for Foxconn manufacturing scandals.)

It became apparent soon after that Microsoft was the real threat to Apple's business model.

People change, organizations change and the world changes. To survive you must adapt. Why not mention the Microsoft investment in 1997? Or the partnership with Cingular/ATT in 2007? Or were those not really evil empires?

Apple and IBM's history of working together on PowerPC from the early 90s to mid '00s is probably why.


This is ratification that iOS devices have an important presence in enterprises, which may be important to the three people in the industry who hadn't yet realized that.

Otherwise, it's business as usual -- IBM customers have a need that has something to do with IT, IBM puts together an offering to address it.

So they are now going to screw blackberry from other side as well. This is a bad news for Microsoft as well.

Does this mean the DB/2 on the Mac will finally reach version parity with Linux? (I am not kidding)

Now Apple has to produce a new spot about IBM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfqw8nhUwA

Notice that this don't mention anything about OS X.

Right, because Windows is entrenched. There is little hope for OSX to displace Windows. Look at how Sun & Linux initiatives tried and largely failed.

This is for iOS a greenfield space, where Apple wants to lock up their position as the standard mobile platform. Apple can win without working too hard to displace the incumbent (likely Blackberry).

>There is little hope for OSX to displace Windows

Although, anecdotally, at conferences with business types carrying laptops the majority seem to be MacBooks. I think Apple may be creeping in a bit.

It's interesting that you refer to iOS as "the standard mobile platform" when Android has been the market share leader for some time.

Not in the enterprise.

I don't know if that's "funny" (curious I'd say) or not. It seems that Apple's push is towards iOS and more away from OS X. More and more it seems that iOS features are making their way into OS X and not the other way around. Maybe once you can easily develop apps for iOS on your iDevice you might see the death knell of OS X and bigger hardware. Just speculation on my part ;)

I had that gut feeling prior to the stuff released in WWDC this year. If anything they're going for a complete customer experience across their iOS and OS X devices. OS X apps will get storyboards which was an iOS only thing in Xcode. It really feels like they're going back over a lot of APIs in OS X and giving them a makeover with the lessons learned from iOS. Where Microsoft may have given developers a single API, Apple gives different APIs that have parity. (Plenty of the new APIs seem to work on both 10.10 and iOS 8)

It's like Apple have bought IBM for the grand price of absolutely nothing. All the upside, none of the risk. (Someone in Cupertino was taking notes from the Wall St bailouts . . . )

For IBM this has to be their last shot before sliding off into oblivion, with their resurgence now looking incredibly temporary. All they really bring at this point is customer relationships and service monkeys, with the former being what Apple are really after.

Service monkeys. Lordy. Those service monkeys build the infrastructure that keeps this world together.

> sliding off into oblivion

At which point the entire worlds banking and transactional services will grind to halt. I don't think you quite appreciate how much of the world runs on IBM kit.

Headline could use some clarification...at first I thought this was about enterprise push notifications.

Confusion is part of the enterprise market.

As soon as you figure out what a product actually does, you realize you could replace it a shell script that took 30 minutes to write.

The point is to get managers to buy something from IBM so they can have push notifications.

My enemy's enemy is my friend, until he also becomes my enemy, which happens sooner or later

IBM will devour their money, just hope that the resulting product is worth it.

Is an osx server better for command line admin than the non-server version?

At this point OS X Server is an App you install from the App Store that adds/enables additional functionality and admin interfaces for verious bits of technology. The rest of the OS remains the same.

Can't wait for iOS/2 Armonk with CoreDB2 for iThinkPad.

It seems Apple and IBM have done this before: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taligent

Is this only for the Enterprise? ( BTW IBM Notes Sucks )

PowerPC? And the Fab IBM is trying to sell but no one wants?


I think IBM needs this more than Apple.

This makes me incredibly happy.

I see this as a sign of weakness for Apple. My gut feeling is this is a sign Apple if feeling vulnerable.

Makes sense given the historical past alliances [1]

Combined with extensions in iOS, I wonder if we can expect to see similar partnerships soon across the enterprise space?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerPC

The Times They Are a-Changin'

This smells of desperation for IBM - it seems to be risk free for Apple. IBM sells their expensive mainframes/server, expensive consultants, and oh by the way, you have to buy 300 iPads as well as part of the contract.

IBM is already in the accounts, and the accounts want iPads.

Oh, how the Mighty have fallen. Big Blue used to be the cream of the crop.

Is branding driving the bus when what counts as innovation for Apple in 2014 is the iBMPhone? The only way this makes sense is if Apple is planning to purchase IBM because otherwise they are the weaker party in a partnership - phones and tablets and pc's are commodities, big iron boxes and enterprise expertise are not.

phones and tablets and pc's are commodities, big iron boxes and enterprise expertise are not.

My impression is the opposite; there's only one iPhone. The whole BYOD thing happened because if you gave employees Blackberries they'd still go out and buy iPhones.

Blackberry is not the iPhone's competition today and it is unlikely to be the iPhone's competition in the future. Today it's the Galaxy etc. and they are really nice phones with really good apps and perhaps even more importantly in the enterprise world, a diversity of open source development stacks that align well with the rest of the enterprise development eco-system.

BYOD doesn't scale directly.

You are right that Blackberry doesn't compete with Apple in the consumer space. But, a lot of enterprise shops are still Blackberry. Largely because Blackberry infrastructure has been in place for years and purchasing takes a long time as well. Apple with IBM has a chance to displace those aging Blackberry mail gateways.

The iPhone doesn't change IBM 's opportunity because we're not talking about replacing one device specific infrastructure with a different device specific infrastructure. The BlackBerry specific systems IBM would replace are likely to be replaced with device agnostic not iPhone specific in most cases.

The only meaningful differences for IBM I see are that it can throw a bunch of iPhones into the deal and bundle them under the service contract with Apple's blessings and that IBM can use iPhones in literature and dog and pony shows.

IBM does not want Microsoft to be successful in this space. A homogeneous Microsoft environment is bad for IBM. You are right that IBM won't make a lot of money through Apple, maybe incremental services & support revenue, but it also helps to protect IBM from Microsoft software in the enterprise.

Why do you say the blackberry systems are likely to be replaced with device agnostic ones? Do you have some insider information?

Also you seem to have missed the part where IBM state that they are going to develop more than 100 apps.

Nice phones, but with a vastly greater risk of malware and industrial espionage.

If this were true the Mac wouldn't have just hit 30 years old. Meanwhile many race-to-the-bottom PC OEMs are exiting/have exited the business.

Corn flakes are 120 years old. Kellogs turns a profit manufacturing them despite their commoditization.


Yeah, but have you seen the "race to the bottom" manufacturers offering their own brand cornflakes? It's certainly driving those big supermarkets out of business! Tesco Value Cornflakes? It's wrecking them!

(Only kidding; the market is large enough that different devices can cater for different needs and price ranges. There appears to be a trend to see something new in this industry and proclaim the demise of other businesses due to them not making this new product or offering this new service. It's short-sighted.)

IBM moved away from X86-X64 hardware, sold them to Lenovo.

IBM knows it is the Post-PC and Post-Microsoft era.

IBM sees Apple using ARM for mobile devices, and Apple, Motorola, and IBM once were partners in the PowerPC technology. So possible IBM and Apple could make a new series of ARM chips for servers and mobile devices. Apple wants to drop Samsung for ARM chips and other stuff, and IBM could replace Samsung.

IBM could make ARM based servers that run OSX Server in a blade configuration for Apple, and Apple can license iOS to IBM for mobile devices, and OSX Server for servers.

I figure a new version of OSX called OSX/2 will be made, with puns towards OS/2 that came out of Microsoft-IBM working together. One that is ARM and X64 based and uses some universal binary format to make apps run on both platforms.

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