Apple-IBM Partnership Releases First 10 Apps

With the new IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, such as Passenger+ (pictured), Apple aims to fly deeper into corporate kingdoms. (PHOTO CREDIT: Apple/IBM)

The partnership between Apple and IBM is starting to bear fruit.

The companies, which in July struck a deal to deliver mobile apps to big businesses, on Wednesday released 10 apps as part of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS product line. The apps span industries including airlines, telecommunications, insurance, banking and government, and are all designed for corporate customers.

Plan Flight, for instance, is designed for pilots to manage their in-flight activities to help airlines save costs, while Passenger+ is intended to help flight crews offer personalized services to passengers in-flight. Another, called Retention, targets the insurance industry to help agents keep top customers in the fold. The government-focused apps focus on helping caseworkers and on crime prevention.

Companies among the initial wave of adopters are Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte.

In time, the Apple-IBM venture aims to create over 100 vertical-focused enterprise apps built for the iPhone and iPad. In addition, IBM’s cloud services will be optimized for iOS, and the giant enterprise-focused company will sell Apple products bundled with the software to companies around the globe. Apple’s support platform, AppleCare, will also be tailored for IBM customers and include on-site support from IBM employees.

The move was a surprising, but also exceedingly important, one for Apple. Over the last few years, Apple has talked up the increasing use of its products in the corporate world. With each quarterly earnings call, the company’s executives have shared how many Fortune 500 companies have so far adopted or tested iOS products. As of this writing, nearly all are at least testing the company’s products to see if they make sense for corporate use.

“This is a big step for iPhone and iPad in the enterprise,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in a statement. “The business world has gone mobile.”

The shift, referred to as BYOD (for “bring your own device”), began as a grass-roots movement among corporate employees who were increasingly using smartphones and tablets in their personal lives and wanted the same convenience in their professional spheres.

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Don Reisinger