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Apple, IBM form business apps partnership

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Courtesy: USA Today Courtesy: USA Today

 (USA TODAY)- Tech giants IBM and Apple are teaming up to develop scores of new business apps that will marry Big Blue's big data capabilities to Apple's user friendly iPads and iPhones.

The business enterprise partnership, announced following Tuesday's market's close, aims to "redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change,'' the companies said in a joint statement.

Appearing on business cable channel CNBC, IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook said the companies were working on over 100 business software programs for Apple's iOS operating system, which will be available this fall.

Rometty said the apps would address specific industry needs and could be used in a wide range of business applications, turning iPads and smart phones into money saving tools, such as helping airline pilots saving fuel. "This can save 10% to 15% for an airline deployed widely,'' Rometty said.

Apple shares rose $1.51 to $96.83 in after-market trading. IBM gained $3.41 to $191.90. The companies, former PC world adversaries, have been working together on the venture for several months.

"It's absolutely huge, it's landmark,'' Cook said of Apple's first major joint venture partnership in years. "It takes the best of IBM and Apple. There's no overlap. It's totally complimentary.''

Analysts applauded the move, which will expand Apple's consumer base into business and burnish IBM's big-data analytics capabilities. IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads to business clients under an exclusive IBM MobileFirst for iOS agreement.

"They really do complement each other." said Richard Doherty, director of research consulting firm The Envisioneering Group. "This seems to be one of these rare win-win-win things. I just see less indecision and more satisfaction and maybe people at work getting to enjoy an iPad on the company's dime instead of them having to go out and buy it."

IBM will advance the "bring your own device" to work movement "because people do equate trust and security with IBM more than any other company," Doherty says.

Many workplaces will benefit from the tech giants' collaboration. "It's going to change a lot of service industries and make them effective and more dependable," he says.

At retail, shoppers may see more iBeacons, in-store transmitters that alert iPhone and other iOS device carriers about sales and process transactions. "(iBeacons make) transactions go faster and more securely," Doherty says. "(Apple) is not a services company, but IBM services retail from Wal-Mart to Starbucks."

The Apple-IBM partnership "is a landmark agreement," said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett. "Given IBM's market strength and coverage, this partnership gives Apple enterprise capabilities and credibility at one stroke -- and gives IBM a premium advantage in the race for mobile enterprise leadership. Look for Google and leading enterprise suppliers to seek partnerships that offer a credible alternative."

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