Apple & IBM Get it Together

September 25, 2014
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The biggest trading day since the bottom dropped out of the real estate market in 2008 kinda/sorta went unnoticed on Friday, September 19, 2014. Two months previously, when Apple and IBM announced they had entered into a partnership with a goal of simplifying the way companies deploy wireless devices, the staid old lady of finance the Financial Times had been shocked. It was a surprise as two rivals with a history of intense competition announced plans for joint experimentation with computing’s next wave, which involves dozens of different mobile business-oriented devices with access to complex data running in the cloud.

The day after, the stock markets in Germany, Japan, England and New York saw a lot of panic buying and selling before a speech presenting the Fed’s semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress mentioned the experimental ‘merger’. A few phone calls from Janet Yellen, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, chilled everybody out again, according to the Financial Times.

Apple & IBM Get it Together
Apple’s Tim Cook and IBM’s Ginni Rometty

It’s too early to speculate upon a merger, yet the temporary coalition seems to have been planned out for a while. Having made massive investments in cutting-edge data and analytics and seen the writing-on-the-wall of cloud computing services and mobility, IBM began developing mobile software last year and working on a theoretical enterprise for the iOS they called Mobile First.  Indeed, after the company’s two CEOs, Apple’s Tim Cook and IBM’s Ginni Rometty, gave the exclusive story to Re/code at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, the partnership got rave reviews from investors in after-hours trading as IBM stock prices went up almost two percent and Apple’s up 1.65 percent.

This heady partnership means IBM and Apple will develop more than 100 industry-specific applications set to run exclusively on iPhone and iPad, including applications for security and analytical data. Consequently, Apple will add a new class of service to its successful AppleCare program and support offerings to Enterprise customers. At the same time, however, at least temporarily, IBM will continue to support other wireless operating systems including Google’s Android.

This also means that IBM will exclusively sell iPhones and iPads to their thousands of corporate customers, utilizing more than 100,000 people, including hundreds of software developers and consultants already in place. Does this sound like a temporary arrangement?

Apple & IBM Get it Together
Tim Cook and Ginni Rometty stroll it out.

IBM’s new custom specialty is creating enterprise applications with cloud infrastructure or on private clouds. Such application data along with personal data will now run on Apple’s iCloud. Apple has never ventured into the world of corporate sales; by partnering with IBM, however, Apple kills two birds with one smooth stone.

Since the rise of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, Apple has slowly become the major supplier of wireless devices to the world’s largest companies, with 98 percent of the Fortune 500 testing or committed to contracts for iOS devices to be used exclusively by their employees, including FedEx, Deutsche Bank, Nestlé, Barclay’s, Cisco Systems, GE and NASA, according to the Financial Times. Indeed, according to research by IDC, iPhones accounted for over 82 percent of smartphones in use at U.S. corporations and 36 percent globally, while iPads accounted for 73 percent of tablets in use at U.S. corporations and 39 percent around the world. Apple and IBM will release the first of those applications in the autumn.

Oh and then there’s this…

Only eight weeks after that, I’m not even slightly surprised that researchers at IBM wait until two days after Apple do all their new business on September 15, 2014, to announce they’ve built a chip that mimics the brain. In a paper published in the journal Science. IBM said it used conventional silicon manufacturing techniques to create what it called a neurosynaptic processor that rivals any traditional supercomputer by handling highly complex computations while consuming no more power than that supplied by a typical hearing-aid battery. To do this, researchers designed the chip with a mesh network of 4,096 neurosynaptic cores. Each core contains elements that handle computing, memory and communicating with other parts of the chip. Each core operates in parallel with the others.

If these guys ever get to download their minds, they’re going to need some pretty big chips themselves.

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