Apple and IBM: clever move or desperation?

My grandmother always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice about someone, then it was better to say nothing.

OK… so let’s talk about Apple and IBM’s announcement on July 15th. It was a surprise. Two completely different companies uniting behind a common goal, to bring mobile business applications into the enterprise. And at first sight it makes sense: IBM is big in enterprise, Apple is king of the mobile consumer and so far has shied away for mixing it with Microsoft to gain a foothold in the mobile office. Combine the two and, hey presto, the best of mobility is now acceptable to enterprise CIO’s who otherwise might have followed the inevitable Microsoft path.

That, as my grandmother would say, is neither a nice nor awful thing to say. But what do the numbers say? CONTEXT tracks sales through Distributors throughout Europe. Their customers are the resellers who serve businesses who are the primary target of the Apple and IBM alliance. In the second quarter of 2013, from the €10.4bn of total revenues tracked, Apple accounted for 7% and IBM 6%. By the second quarter of 2014, that had changed to 9% and 5% respectively. Not much in it, you could say. But look at what’s changing in the ecosystems. Over the same period, iOS share of the tablet business went from 38% to 29%, while Android share went from 60% to 68%. Even Microsoft’s Win 8.1 increased, albeit slightly. Samsung’s share of Distributor revenues over the same period went from 9% to 7%. And that’s the point. The relentless march of Android bolstered by a myriad of devices and a champion with deep pockets, and not yet conquered by Microsoft, is threatening Apple’s position and could scupper IBM’s Mobile First programme.

So it’s a great idea. Google, Microsoft: watch out. My grandmother would have been proud of me.

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