Apple and IBM and the Monday Note

Scott Francis
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Gassée’s Monday Note has one of the best write-ups of the Apple+IBM partnership. He points out the problems, the clash of cultures, even the very different financial pictures. For example, we think of IBM as a huge company and Apple as less so… but Apple’s $37B dwarfs IBM’s $24B in revenue last quarter.

Revenue per employee?  $211,900 for IBM, $2,111,000 for Apple.  Read that again.

Given that alliances don’t work, and the cultural clashes… Why is this one any different?  Gassée has some interesting thoughts:

Division of labor is the most convincing argument for this partnership. IBM is and always has been an Enterprise Services company. As it did in its glorious mainframe days, it can take care of everything: analyze your business, recommend changes, re-engineer your organization, write software, maintain everything. Today, there’s much less focus on hardware revenue, but the broad scope remains.

And as for Apple?

Apple doesn’t have the manpower and culture to come in, engineer, deploy, and maintain company-wide applications and fleets of devices. That’s IBM forte.

It will certainly be an interesting play on the enterprise.  As I wrote before, I think one advantage this potentially presents for IBM is that they’re getting off the fence.  For too long IBM’s mobile efforts have suffered for trying to be platform-agnostic.  It is just too hard to write great software across 3-4 different mobile platforms.  Focusing on the best platform will free IBM’s focus.  You might think with all their programmers that it isn’t a problem to focus on many things – but it is.  There are fewer designers and managers and decision makers… and their focus is a limiting reagent.

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