The much ballyhooed partnership between IBM and Apple to build enterprise apps for iPads and iPhones is officially open for business.
The companies launched their first slate of 10 apps on Wednesday and announced some big customers: Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte.
The partnership, which goes by the name “MobileFirst,” was announced in July. It was hailed as “groundbreaking” by Apple CEO Tim Cook at the time, and called a “landmark” by Apple CFO Luca Maestri when talking to analysts in October.
This is the list of the new apps: Each one is intended to run on iOS devices and be customised for individual companies (IBM would do that work), while the apps themselves will take advantage of IBM’s cloud.
- Plan Flight (for travel and transportation companies) helps companies track and trim their fuel expenses by letting pilots view flight schedules, flight plans, and crew manifests in advance, report issues in-flight to ground crews, and make more informed decisions about discretionary fuel.
- Passenger+ (for travel and transportation companies) lets flight crews offer more services in-flight like special offers, re-booking, and baggage information.
- Advise & Grow (for banking and financial companies) lets bankers access client profiles and analyses to make more personalised recommendations for small businesses and complete secure transactions.
- Trusted Advice (for banking and financial companies) allows advisors to access and manage client portfolios on the road, modelling recommendations and do secure transactions.
- Retention (for insurance companies) helps agents manage customer contacts with analysis, alerts, and recommendations. It also lets them complete transactions using e-signatures.
- Case Advice (for government) supports caseworkers as they visit families and people. It also helps them identify at-risk situations using big data analysis.
- Incident Aware (for government) gives law enforcement officers real-time access to maps and video-feeds of incident locations on their iPhones. It also shows them information about victim status, escalation risk, and crime history ability to call for back-up, too.
- Sales Assist (for retail) lets salespeople see customer profiles on the retail floor so they can make recommendations. It also lets them check inventory, locate items in-store, and ship out-of-store items.
- Pick & Pack (for retail) helps retailers track items in the story and connects with inventory order systems.
- Expert Tech (for telecommunications companies) taps into FaceTime for all sorts of needs, whether it’s employees asking an question to an expert or customers talking to a support tech.
IBM has shared a few photos of some of the above apps.
Both companies really need this partnership to work. Apple needs to shore up tanking iPad sales. Unless Apple does something to stop the tide, analysts are expecting Apple to post some abysmal numbers for its March quarter: about 9.8 million iPads, a 40% drop on a year-over-year basis.
This partnership will help Apple sell more iOS devices to its biggest untapped market: enterprises.
And IBM might be even more desperate for this partnership to work. Revenues for IBM are shrinking across the board. CEO Ginny Rometty is trying to lead the company through a massive turnaround, laying off workers, shedding underperforming business units and beefing up investments in growth areas like mobile and cloud. This partnership is one of Rometty’s signature deals.