Apple’s recent attempts to court corporate markets, such as with the productivity-oriented iPad Pro tablets, have paid off handsomely: in the 2015 fiscal year, the company’s revenue from business customers grew by 40%. Much of that progress could be sensibly attributed to the partnership which Apple has forged with a former arch rival in the tech sphere: IBM…
Apple takes on Big Brother… or was it Big Blue?
If you’re a particularly old Apple user, you might already be chuckling at the irony of the Cupertino company reaping great returns from teaming up with Big Blue. After all, in the 1980s, the two were major competitors in the personal computing sector.
In August 1981, the same month that IBM debuted its first PC, Apple ran a full-page advert in the Wall Street Journal titled “Welcome, IBM. Seriously.” It has been considered mischievous, basically asking IBM: “What took you so long?” And, in January 1984, Apple put out its now legendary advert, aired during the Superbowl XVIII championship football game, portraying a blue-tinted, propaganda-dispensing “Big Brother” figure symbolizing, it has been suggested, IBM…
As you should realize if you have watched the above video, which provides a degree of insight into the making of that ad, that big, scary face wasn’t actually meant to represent IBM… at least according to Lee Clow, the Creative Director of TBWA/Worldwide who was involved with the campaign. But it’s now part of tech folklore that it was.
Two pieces of a corporate jigsaw now come together
Fast-forward to the present day, and Apple and IBM have both changed dramatically since the 1980s. Both remain major tech players, but for very different reasons. Mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad have long replaced computers as Apple’s chief money-spinners, while IBM has left the PC market completely, in favor of a stronger focus on software solutions for work sectors including education and healthcare. Not that many people might realize this even today. In fact, this year, IBM posted a video clarifying how it has moved on since the days when hardware was its bread-and-butter.
Now that Apple and IBM have built specialities in different areas, a partnership between the two makes much more sense, with each having expertise that the other can benefit from. When, in July 2014, Apple and IBM first announced that the latter would make over 100 business apps exclusively for Apple platforms and sell Apple devices to its clients, IBM CEO Virginia Rometty told CNBC that Apple will help her company to strengthen enterprise security. Tight security is a major Apple strength, as the company’s recent clash with the FBI made especially clear.
With Apple now setting aside space on its website to openly promote and detail various merits of IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, and almost half of all iPad sales, according to research firm Forrester, going to corporations and governments, the future is certainly looking bright for the Apple-IBM team-up.