Credit: Apple/Paul Sakuma

Why Apple and IBM's partnership is bad news for BlackBerry and Microsoft

The once bitter rivals have put their bad blood behind them to target business customers. BlackBerry and Microsoft will be worried.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 26 Jan 2015

Steve Jobs really, really didn’t like IBM. In 1984 Apple released its infamous Super Bowl ad comparing Big Blue to Big Brother and the man behind the Mac wasn’t shy about giving them the finger either.

It seems Jobs really is being consigned to the mists of time, though, as the former rivals are now teaming up to target business customers with a range of 100 ‘industry-specific’ apps loaded on Apple devices and hack-proofed by IBM.

‘That was a long time ago. We do not compete on anything,’ Apple chief exec Tim Cook said of the rivalry. ‘And when you do that you end up with something better than either of you could produce yourself. This is a landmark deal.’

It does look like a win-win for both companies. With sales growth slowing, Apple can now turn its attention away from the saturated consumer market to businesspeople, many of whom already use their personal iPhones and iPads at work. And the aged IBM gets to jump on the smartphone bandwagon.

The biggest loser in this is BlackBerry, which had been clawing its way back from the brink by focusing on the business market. Its shares duly slumped as much as 4.2% in after-hours trading after the news came out.

‘Apple just took a sword and stabbed it right in the heart of BlackBerry and said "you’re done",’ Ross Gerber, the head of wealth managers Gerber Kawasaki, told CNBC.

It also deals a blow to Microsoft, whose new boss Satya Nadella had made converting companies to its cloud-based products a priority. But for businesses wanting cheaper, better IT the increasingly heated competition can only be a good thing.

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