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Expert view: Apple / IBM deal

17 Jul 14

Warwick Business School Professor Mark Skilton gives an expert analysis of Apple and IBM's new partnership, announced yesterday.

The challenge for IBM and Apple will be in the marriage of two masters, one in consumer mobile and one in enterprise systems, and if they coexist to seamlessly work for customers.

IBM has strengths in their SoftLayer acquisition for enterprise data, service orchestration and integration to their cloud services, having divested in areas such as the PC and selected hardware as they recognise the shift towards a data and services centric universe.

What they don’t have is their own mobile platform and device market, so the alliance with Apple is a return to the strategic co-competitors we have seen in the past with these two companies with the Mac and PC.

Apple has their mobile device and app market, but lacks the industrial enterprise business model for large scale enterprise solutions. Apple will benefit from faster enterprise level services through their devices and IBM will benefit from the superlative user experience that Apple excels in.

The alliance makes good sense as the Google Android platform, with its ubiquity in the consumer and enterprise market, would be an alternative partner for IBM, but would also represent a more strategically difficult alliance as Google has cloud and enterprise apps services that could have taken data traffic away from IBM’s cloud data centers.

This partnership could mean trouble for Microsoft with its Azure and Nokia strategy. While attempting to play in both mobile and cloud camps, Microsoft may not be able to be master of both in consumer and enterprise markets.

Amazon has recently attempted to launch their own mobile device as well as reader devices but like the failed Facebook mobile the issue for these companies is in being able to create quality services and content for the enterprise and consumer markets.

A recent Cisco study found global mobile data traffic grew 81 per cent in 2013, representing 13 per cent of the total internet traffic, while the connection of mobile use and apps will see 25 billion connected devices by 2020 and one in three people on the planet will be using social media.

With statistics like these the technology and business service vendors who are playing in this space have much to gain and loose if they are not well positioned to maximise investment.

The big game is in what some describe as SMAC - social, mobile, analytics and cloud - plus the internet of things. The big opportunity and challenge is in connectivity between mobile devices, cloud computing and the data drivers of social media and analytics through this mobile infrastructure over the internet.

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