As I mentioned last week, in my post, “Enterprise Customers Forged the Apple/IBM Ecosystem,” what tickled me about the exclusive worldwide partnership announced by IBM and Apple on 7/15/14 was that it was a great example of IBM’s running around in front of the customer parade. Enterprise customers—led by their CEOs, sales execs, and top-earning rainmakers—had already voted with their proverbial feet and adopted Apple iPads and iPhones as their devices of choice for getting work done on the go. That meant that their IT organizations had to adapt by accommodating Apple devices and apps, and they did. Soon, an entire ecosystem of third-party tools and services sprang up to help enterprise IT professionals manage iDevices, support them, develop apps for them, and deliver back-end enterprise data and applications securely to employees. Apple helped primarily by getting out of the way. That evolution began four years ago, shortly after the introduction of the iPad. Apple supported these activities with its iOS Developer Enterprise Program, which allowed corporations to develop apps for their own institutional use and not have to publish them in the Apple App Store.
Now, IBM has made a dramatic entrance into this ecosystem—with four offerings specifically targeted for their many enterprise accounts: IBM MobileFirst for iOS, IBM MobileFirst Platforms for iOS, AppleCare for Enterprise, and MobileFirst supply and management. The first two offerings are targeted for application developers and are iOS-specific instantiations of IBM’s MobileFirst offerings, which we described in IBM’s MobileFirst “Customer Cloud” Strategy, in late March. Essentially, this is a cloud-based development platform that is designed to help enterprise app developers develop, deploy, secure, and integrate corporate apps into their (IBM and other ERP) back-end systems and services. IBM has developed 100+ starter kit apps for over 10 vertical industries.