Although both IBM and Apple need their landmark new partnership to work, between the two, IBM needs it more.
Apple is on fire right now. Yeah, its iPad sales are waning and the IBM deal is supposed to help stop that trend by encouraging the huge, lucrative business world to use more iPads with custom business software.
But IBM isn’t looking to beef up a single, slightly sluggish product. It’s undergoing a much more massive, painful transition as companies stop buying all their own technology and rent more of it from others hosted elsewhere, a concept called cloud computing.
IBM, which makes and sells a lot of the tech that they are no longer buying, has had 11 straight quarters of year-over-year revenue decline (even as it issued a disappointing earnings forecast for 2015).
IBM is bringing a lot to the table in this partnership. It is helping to build business apps using some of its world-class analysis software (known as Watson), hosting those apps on its cloud, helping enterprises customise and deploy them, and it’s using its huge enterprise sales force to sell it all.
But, according to USB analyst Steven Milunovich, when it comes to this partnership “Apple [is] in control,” he wrote in a research note.
Apple is making IBM sales reps schlep and use Macs when pitching customers, not just iPads, and use Apple’s presentation software, Keynote, Milunovich writes:
Our checks also indicate that Apple is dictating the terms of customer engagement. IBM sales people are only to have Macs with them running Keynote presentations developed by Apple. This partnership probably has more teeth than most given the one time competitors are highly complementary today and have opposite strengths. Will the speculated 13″ iPad Pro play into the enterprise push?
And, although IBM long-ago sold its PC business to Lenovo, Lenovo just sold the 100 millionth ThinkPad, the popular laptop originally developed and sold by IBM.
But with the ball in Apple’s court, it’s out with the PCs and in with the Macs.
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