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Apple and IBM join forces in landmark push for iOS in enterprise

Tech giants Apple and IBM on Tuesday announced a new partnership that looks to revolutionize mobile device use in enterprise with customized apps and services for iPhone and iPad.

As part of the new partnership, an extension of IBM's MobileFirst initiative dubbed "IBM MobileFirst for iOS," IBM has developed more than 100 native iOS apps and services tailored to the needs of multiple industries. When the program goes live, Apple will introduce a new AppleCare tier designed specifically for enterprise customers.

"iPhone and iPad are the best mobile devices in the world and have transformed the way people work with over 98 percent of the Fortune 500 and over 92 percent of the Global 500 using iOS devices in their business today," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "For the first time ever we're putting IBM's renowned big data analytics at iOS users' fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple. This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver."

Cook also mentioned in an interview with CNBC that, despite the large marketshare in enterprise, Apple has a huge growth potential in penetrating deeper into those industries. IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty agreed, saying current enterprise mobility usually ends at email and calendaring.

As an example, the pair discussed a prototype app built for the airline industry that is expected to roll out later this year. Instead of current iPad deployments in the cockpit, which replace crew electronic flight bags, IBM will be integrating its networked solutions to offer more accurate fuel estimates for pilots on the ground, saving carriers money on a global scale.

The big news is IBM's MobileFirst Supply and Management program, which supplies enterprise customers with device packages, activation and management services all built around Apple's iPhone and iPad. IBM is also offering hardware leasing options. Backed by iPhone and iPad distribution from IBM, Apple now has a huge advantage in its mobile initiatives for enterprise going forward.

Aside from the tailor-made software, IBM will also offer services like mass device management, security, analytics and mobile integration. The IBM MobileFirst Platform for iOS delivers a holistic end-to-end enterprise solution that includes analytics, cloud storage, security and integration tools.

As part of the MobileFirst for iOS deal, IBM will sell iPhones and iPads with the industry-specific solutions to business clients worldwide.IBM is also making available private app catalogs, data and transaction security services, and a its first-party productivity suite designed specifically for the MobileFirst initiative. Services will have tie-ins with IBM's Bluemix development platform and are to be made available on the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

As for support, Apple provides a special class of AppleCare services to customers that includes 24/7 telephone and email support, while IBM handles on-site repairs.

"Mobility— combined with the phenomena of data and cloud— is transforming business and our industry in historic ways, allowing people to re-imagine work, industries and professions," said Rometty. "This alliance with Apple will build on our momentum in bringing these innovations to our clients globally, and leverages IBM's leadership in analytics, cloud, software and services. We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can't imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform."

MobileFirst for iOS and its corresponding services are set for a rolling launch that begins this fall and continues into 2015.