Apple's enterprise mobility deal with IBM could pressure BlackBerry, Google

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Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new enterprise mobility partnership with IBM could put more pressure on BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) as well as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and OEMs that use Google's Android software, according to industry analysts.

Under Apple and IBM's "landmark" teaming, the former rivals will collaborate on creating mobile applications for specific enterprise solutions. IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads to its business customers.

The deal reflects Apple's desire to get its iOS software more deeply embedded in the enterprise segment as well as IBM's push into the mobile market. The deal will include the creation of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps developed for the iPhone and iPad; IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration; new AppleCare service and support for enterprise users; and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said the deal reflects their unique capabilities. "If you were building a puzzle, they would fit nicely together with no overlap," Cook said of the relationship in an interview with Re/code. "We do not compete on anything. And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself."

Rometty said Apple is the "gold standard for consumers," and said the partnership will allow the companies to help address the challenges affecting large companies. "We will get to remake professions and unlock value that companies don't yet have," she said. "We're addressing serious issues that before this had been inhibiting deployment of wireless in the enterprise."

Analysts said the deal now makes IBM and Apple more central players in the enterprise mobility market. "They're now strongly associated with the premium mobile platform and mobile devices," Forrester Research Frank Gillet told Bloomberg. "If you want to do anything interesting in the enterprise, you now have to check with IBM on what they're doing with Apple."

What that means for Apple's competitors is less clear at this point, but it is likely going to put more pressure on them to prove their worth to government and enterprise clients. BlackBerry, long a leader in the enterprise security and mobile device management markets, is the most obvious target. BlackBerry CEO John Chen has been engaged in an intensive effort to turn around the company's finances in part by focusing more squarely on the firm's enterprise heritage, both in terms of services and devices.

"It is not a crushing blow at this early stage, but ‎it is a negative for BlackBerry," IDC analyst John Jackson told Reuters. "There can be little question that it is unwelcome, if not entirely unexpected news."

BlackBerry's shares fell 4.7 percent to $10.77 on the news Tuesday, and are trading now at around $10.66 per share. However, the company said it was undaunted. "The news that Apple is partnering with IBM to expand into the enterprise mobility market only underscores the ongoing need for secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions like those BlackBerry has delivered for years," BlackBerry said in a statement to Reuters, adding that it remains the leader in the market with the software and network to secure data for enterprise customers.

Other companies are likely going to be caught in the crosshairs. "The partnership's software around data security and device management pose immediate threats to mobile device management (MDM) software solutions deployed by firms such as BlackBerry and MobileIron," Morningstar analyst Brian Colello wrote in a research note to clients, according to Reuters. "Even if Apple-IBM's security 'mousetrap' isn't as good as ones offered by BlackBerry and others, these MDM vendors will have to overcome the extremely high hurdle of displacing IBM's mobile device software preloaded on iPhones and iPads."

As ZDNet points out, there are many other mobile players that are likely going to be affected, including Google and Samsung Electronics, the largest Android device maker. Both have already started to shore up Android's position in the enterprise market, but the Apple/IBM alliance could make those efforts more challenging.

In June, Google said its newest major software update, Android L, will include enhancements that will allow the company to more effectively target the enterprise market. Specifically, the company announced a new service that can separate corporate applications and personal applications on one Android device, thereby improving the security of corporate data and allowing users to only carry one phone for personal and work activities. Google also said that Samsung had integrated much of its Knox mobile enterprise technology into Android, and that Google will initiate a "Certified Android For Work" program.

Google might partner with an IBM rival like Accenture to fight back, but it's unclear if it will do so. Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard are two major OEMs that have bet heavily on Android, and the Apple/IBM deal could potentially push them closer to Microsoft.

Microsoft, for its part, has made its enterprise productivity features a key part of its offering for its Windows Phone platform. However, ZDNet notes that Microsoft could be insulated since its Office software suite now works on iOS and it is moving more of its solutions into the cloud to work across platforms.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article
- see this ZDNet article
- see these two separate Re/code articles
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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