If you have any doubts that the desktop computer is not going the way of the dodo then the recent announcement of IBM and Apple joining forces should all but confirm it.
IBM, the once undisputed king of hardware from mainframe to PC is now firmly entrenched in enterprise software, cloud services, data and analytics. Apple, is the doyen of design when it comes to hardware that people want to use and the iPad has led the revolution into hybrid connectivity where the device, applications and connectivity work in harmony for maximum mobility and usability.
But whilst the iPad has led the tablet revolution and with the iPhone have become dominant BYOD options in the enterprise space, they have barely scratched the surface as really serious business tools, despite the plethora of business apps available.
Apple needs the enterprise market and IBM needs a means to keep that market connected to its offerings, but it would be naïve to assume that is all that is being hatched by these two giants.
Forbes magazine felt that IBM was “essentially turning itself into a channel partner for Apple, charging its sales force of 100,000 with selling the combined platform into all of the verticals they serve.” It went on to say that, “Apple, as well, needs Big Blue’s big data credibility with enterprise customers. Siri is a bright young woman, but she’s no Watson!”
It would be fair to say Watson is Siri on steroids. Anyone having experienced the cognitive powers of Watson when teamed with some serious enterprise data will know exactly what this means. Extending that power to the hands of mobile users extends the range of effectiveness for any enterprise staff member or customer.
Apple may be hoping, or has already arranged, that IBM adopt its Swift programming language for its MobileFirst platform for iOS. This would deliver tremendous credibility and influence other developers to make the switch giving Apple a big advantage in the enterprise stakes against the likes of Samsung, and other Android powered devices that will also see enterprise as the growth path in the future.
If rumors that Apple is gearing up to produce a large 12.9” format iPad are true you can bet it will be geared for enterprise and an ideal launch platform for MobileFirst. Forbes put it most succinctly by saying that, “big data is a big nothing if you don’t know what to do with it. And the easier and more intuitive it is to work with data the more data businesses will consume. So apps, and specifically the design of apps, is the flow channel through which computational usage will grow.”
Here we are seeing ‘design meet data’ in what could be a very exciting mix. IBM will start selling iPhones and iPads to its corporate clients and backing those sales up with new AppleCare® service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise. It will also package offerings for device activation, supply and management.
With IBM’s help, Apple becomes a legitimate business play, and IBM gets to tie up ‘the last mile’ in its enterprise strategy. Microsoft and Google must be left wondering what just happened. If they pretend that this marriage will not affect them they would be crazy. This is a formidable foe offering great design, great applications, great security and support and all targeted at the premium corporate and enterprise markets that IBM already holds sway with.
The switch to mobility will hurt Microsoft most. Already dwindling desktop PC sales will continue to eat into Windows’ market dominance and how long will the dependence on Office on a PC be a factor now that it, too, is available on mobile devices. Will this prove to be the last nail in the desktop coffin?