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Apple Partners With Former Rival IBM to Target Enterprise Customers

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Apple and IBM are teaming up to bring iPhones and iPads to business customers, the two companies said in a surprise announcement Tuesday. In a wide-ranging partnership, the two tech giants that were bitter rivals for decades will create a suite of apps and services aimed at enterprise clients.

Under the deal, IBM will develop iOS apps serving the retail, banking, insurance, transportation and telecommunications industries under the umbrella of IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions. An end-to-end enterprise platform called IBM MobileFirst Platform is also in the works. The companies will also launch an enterprise version of AppleCare, Apple’s customer support service. IBM has agreed to pitch these new services, as well as iPhones and iPads themselves, to its business clients around the world. The first products developed under the partnership will launch this fall.

“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,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

“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,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty offered. “Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform.”

Re/code reports that iPhones currently account for 82 percent of smartphones being used at U.S. corporations, while iPads make up 73 percent of tablets. The partnership will give Apple a further leg up against competitors like Google, which is integrating bring-your-own-device technology into the newest version of its Android software, and struggling enterprise phone maker BlackBerry. BlackBerry stock dropped about 3.6 percent in after-hours trading after the news of the partnership.

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