A Timeline for the Apple/IBM Partnership Announcement

Posted by Bob Garst - Owner (technical perspective) on Wed,Aug 26, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

a timeline for the apple/ibm

Since Apple and IBM surprised the world with their partnership in July of last year, their alliance been greatly scrutinized.

Why did they do it?  How are each of them benefitting? What are the terms of their agreement?

We intend to take a look at these questions – and more – as we delve into some of the key aspects of this partnership in upcoming posts.  But at the outset, we’d like to take a step back at this partnership to view it from a unique perspective—by zooming out.

The Apple/IBM Timeline

apple ibm timelines


July 15, 2014The announcement 

Apple and IBM have had a rather unique, competitive relationship.  More recently, both companies have moved heavily in non-traditional directions. IBM exited the personal computer space while focusing more on services and a move to “Big Data”.  Meanwhile, beginning with the announcement of the iPhone in 2007, Apple has become a clear industry leader in “mobility”.

In July, 2014, IBM and Apple jointly announced an exclusive collaboration that draws on the distinct strengths of each company: IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities fused with Apple’s legendary consumer experience, hardware and software integration and developer platform.

What Apple wanted out of the partnership

For many, Apple has historically not been considered a major player in the enterprise space, even though, today, 90% of the Fortune 500 are using iOS devices. The partnership with IBM stands to give Apple a larger presence in the enterprise market.

What IBM wanted out of the partnership

IBM is a leader in IT solutions and services for the enterprise.  But as the enterprise has more and more embraced “mobile” and indeed the notion of “mobile first” from an application deployment perspective, it became apparent that IBM needed a mobile platform on which to build and offer mobile solutions.  The feeling is that these IBM developed applications would, in turn, allow IBM to then further increase their service offerings in and around these solutions and indeed the Apple platform itself.


December 10, 2014First 10 mobile business apps launch 



The first (10) mobile business applications to result from this partnership were released in December 2014, with positive reviews from analysts who considered them both “impressive” and “complex.”

These apps targeted various vertical industries, to include:  banking, law enforcement, and airlines. To date, nearly three dozen apps have come out of the alliance.

February 9, 2015: UBS’s Steven Milunovich reveals that IBM salespeople must use Macintoshes for sales presentations 

In a note to investors, analyst Steven Milunovich of UBS stated that, when courting potential customers, IBM salespeople are reportedly required to "only" use Apple Macintosh hardware and to also only use Apple's own Keynote software for any / all presentations.

May 28, 2015: IBM offers all employees Macintosh computers (plans for 50,000) 

Although, historically, IBM has allowed some of its employees – largely developers -  to use Macintosh, that platform was never an open option for the rank and file IBM employee.  During the course if this joint Apple & IBM initiative, it was disclosed that IBM did indeed have some 15,000 Macs in a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) capacity.  However, once again, this new Apple & IBM venture has opened new doors - even within IBM -  as IBM has subsequently announced that it is now offering the Apple Macintosh platform as an approved, company provided computer.

At first, IBM estimated that it would purchase an additional 50,000 Macs by the end of 2015.  This alone would put IBM atop all other companies in terms of the number of Apple Macintosh’s purchased in a single year.  But subsequently, it was revealed that this estimate could indeed soon “balloon” to quantities well beyond that.

July 30, 2015: Internal IBM video reveals that it expects to buy far more Macs for employees: 150,000-200,000 


Jeff Smith, IBM CIO and Niall O’Connor, Apple CIO had been having some interesting discussions about how many Macs IBM might be needing.  But those discussions became far more interesting after Jeff Smith mentioned potential quantities in excess of 150,000 devices.  This clearly had Niall O’Connor’s – and Apple’s – attention.


August 5, 2015: IBM announces it will promote Macintosh computers for enterprises in addition to iOS devices


The “noise” surrounding IBM’s potential, large-scale internal use of Macintosh computers was soon drowned out by a large “boom” in the form of a disclosure of a distinctly separate initiative.

It was disclosed that, in addition to iPads, IBM will promote, deploy and manage Apple Macintosh in the enterprise as well.  To do this, an IBM services organization will be able to:  a.)  facilitate the transfer a company’s data to the new Macs; b.) place the Macs on the desired network, and; c.) establish the appropriate infrastructure to manage them.  In other words, IBM will now be able to provide end-to-end management of Apple Macintosh for the enterprise.

As with Apple’s iOS based iPads, Apple’s additional “win” here is that its long-time Macintosh computer systems will also potentially enjoy far greater penetration into the enterprise.  This is most definitely a major milestone for Apple as it tries to move beyond the consumer and into the enterprise.


August 5, 2015: IBM chooses JAMF software to deploy Apple devices


As a key component of IBM’s announcement regarding Apple Macintosh, IBM also announced that it has partnered with JAMF Software to provide the backbone of IBM’s management services.  With it’s Casper Suite dating back to JAMF’s founding in 2002, JAMF Software has long held the crown of “best of breed” for Macintosh management.  JAMF Software focuses on Apple products and technologies and only Apple. 

BFA Technologies, Inc. is both a reseller of and certified integration partner for JAMF Software.  And we are very excited about the opportunities this joint IBM and JAMF Software relationship will bring about.

jamf software



When you look at the big picture of the events surrounding Apple’s alliance with IBM, you will notice how this partnership seems to be steadily expanding.

Apple and IBM have put forth 33 apps and counting, and it appears that enterprise technology may never be the same. <CLICK TO TWEET>

Not bad for two former fierce competitors.

You can take a look at the apps at IBM’s MobileFirst for iOS page.

Find out about our device management services.



Topics: Mac Integration