Apple and IBM Join Forces to Boost Mobile Sales

Archrivals team up for b-to-b market

Apple has partnered with IBM to give the mobile phone manufacturer fresh inroads into the business-to-business market.

Under the deal—dubbed an exclusive partnership between the archrivals—they will develop 100 apps for IBM’s business clients, highlighting Apple’s need to push into industries outside of its enterprise business. IBM will also sell its clients iPads and iPhones to be used within organizations.

While Apple has been successful at convincing consumers to purchase laptops, tablets and mobile phones, the company doesn’t have the same type of sales chops when it comes to what business clients look for in buying mobile devices in bulk.

To that point, Forrester Research analyst Jeffrey Hammond predicted that IBM—which is known for striking up multimillion-dollar deals with business clients—could lift Apple’s quarterly sales between 5 and 10 percent.

For IBM, Apple brings the mobile expertise that it needs as more businesses move towards the bring your own device (or BYOD) trend.

Hammond also said that the exclusive part of the deal means that other tech giants such as Google, Samsung or Microsoft could look for such partnerships to boost their device sales. And he mentioned Oracle, Deloitte and HP as ad-tech companies well-suited for IBM-like deals with the mobile manufacturers. "That 'exclusive' keyword means that when IBM says, 'We’re developing their exclusive apps,' they’re not going to do the same thing with Android," Hammond said.

While IBM does bring a significant sales team with it, Chris Paradysz, CEO and founder of marketing firm PM Digital, questioned how well IBM will able to sell iPhones and iPads that already have an established following. "There is a question about sales people adopting [Apple’s devices] that are different than what they are used to selling," he said. 

Additionally, Paradysz pointed out that Apple’s advertising strategy—which has lost some of its appeal in recent years by trying to convince consumers to buy individual products—may switch to cater to businesses that are buying devices in bulk.

However, Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett doesn’t believe that Apple’s marketing will stray far from its roots as a result of the IBM deal. "This is about the fact that Apple always addresses [advertising] from the individual, and I don’t see that changing in their advertising," he added.

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