While Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella is busy charting the Enterprise Mobility strategy, Apple has quietly entered into a partnership with IBM to extend its reach into the enterprise mobility market through IBM’s MobileFirst for iOS solutions. IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads to enterprises worldwide.
Together they will offer four key capabilities: (1) over 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps for both iPhone and iPad; (2) IBM’s cloud services optimized for iOS including device management, security, analytics, and mobile integration; (3) AppleCare service and support offerings tailored specifically to enterprises; and (4) new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.
This solidifies Apple’s positioning in the rapidly growing enterprise mobility market. Indeed, Apple has been touting its positioning within Fortune 500 companies since crossing 90% penetration in the June quarter of 2011, though this partnership serves as a potential catalyst for far more widespread adoption within those accounts. While the enterprise opportunity for Apple has not been a key focus to date, partnership with IBM will likely change this.
Enterprise to account for an increasingly large percentage of smartphones – Based on IDC forecasts, the enterprise is expected to account for an increasing large percentage of smartphone shipments over the next several years. Indeed, their most recent report (June 2014) highlights the percent of smartphones that are business-related will be approaching 30% by 2015E.
iOS Features for Enterprise computing
Apple’s latest enterprise features allow iOS 7 devices in a BYOD environment to maintain the look and feel of consumer-only iPhones. This is because the OS provides APIs for third-party developers and enterprises that enable per-app security, data transfers and management. For instance, with the Open In feature, enterprises can choose which apps will be allowed to open and share sensitive corporate data. Further solidifying this latent separation between corporate and personal functions, Apple now offers per-app VPN, which creates a VPN tunnel for each app, not the entire device. As such, managed corporate apps still have a secure data connection, but personal emails, browsing data, app usage, etc. never touch the corporate network.
Indeed, the fact that the vast majority of Apple’s installed base is running on the latest version of iOS means that Apple’s devices can support the most up to date enterprise management and security features for developers to leverage. While consumers may tolerate older versions of an OS, this is often not possible in corporate environments where IT departments are tasked with deploying secure apps. With Apple’s ability to rapidly upgrade most users to the latest iteration of iOS, the company has a significant advantage in the enterprise marketplace.