July 17, 2014

IBM’s Worklight Still has a Large Phone Gap to Bridge with Apple

Apple (News Alert) is not enterprise-friendly—now there is a newsflash.  Simply put, Steve was a consumer more than a businessman, and his genius was never on the operations side. As such, from Apple’s perspective, the reasoning behind the company’s brand-spanking new relationship with IBM (News Alert) is quite clear: IBM has built the business team strategy internal to the stores, which works well enough for small business. 

Delivering enterprise apps via the App Store is something of a nightmare. In effect, your company becomes subservient to Apple, and you can forget about the concept of a Value Added Reseller integrating their apps before the device is sold. As United Office’s president Ray Pasquale pointed out, when his company brought a Unified Office client to the iPad, delivery to the channel for configuration was not in Apple’s logistics plan.

Apple is still Apple in every other way, and IBM is going to have to work on the logistics integration that will bring delivery to the enterprise more in tune with the concept of businesses having control of configuration, delivery and security. Fortunately, IBM has built a lot of this capability into its Worklight Framework, a segmented branch from the open source PhoneGap base that is now called Cordova.

A key ingredient sure to work in Apple’s favor is that Worklight’s design performs application layer security and will not interfere with App Store sales. And unlike so many mobile device management (MDM) strategies, this is a solution that will not interfere with the Apple App Store and the consumer that lies hidden in every employee.

Already, the popular press is focusing on the historical pictures of who loses in the new partnership, with the pictures offered of Steve Jobs in front of an IBM building.  However, in my opinion the real losers are:

Oracle (News Alert): While embedded in the Apple Store (the retail physical store), the fact that Oracle has not become an integration partner, one holding tightly to the Larry Ellison (NewsAlert)-Steve Jobs partnership, illustrates that Apple is now fully Tim Cook’s company.

Lenovo: Having just acquired the handset side of Motorola (News Alert), the IBM Thinkpad is set to fade further into the sunset as retooling will now face further pressures for something better than the stable equipment it manufacturers.

Adobe: Worklight is sure to gain significantly more interest than either Cordova or PhoneGap as a result of the Apple-IBM deal.

Certain friends of mine would like me to include Microsoft on my list of losers, and perhaps the new Apple-IBM partnership will impact Office to some degree, but the reality is that MSFT is morphing and its Azure solutions will probably benefit as a result. I could also add Google to the mix as Android could certainly use the help of a Sherpa.

The last thing I want to say regarding my thoughts on the losers in the Apple-IBM partnership: Please do not make any stock choices based on my views. I no longer believe in smart money on Wall Street and you shouldn’t either. I do believe the popular press will have an immediate impact on stocks, and I stand by my thoughts expressed with regard to long-term impact, but the stock market today is not subject to long term guidance.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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