Apple: Now They’re Cook’n With Gas

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The latest revelation to hit the business world that I feel will be both under reported as well as under estimated is the legitimate sea change that may be taking place with the announcement that Apple® and IBM® will work together to both create and sell products.  Personally I don’t know of any other such collaboration in recent memory that has the possibility of having a truly transformative effect.

As always I’ll state right up front: I am an Apple fanboy and have been for many years. That said I have also been very critical and not shy as to express my consternation when they have made moves that either impacted my user experience (e.g., deleting key features or a “dumbing” down of some products) as well as mergers or purchases that just don’t seem to make sense. e.g., The Beats™ acquisition.

However, this latest move I fully understand and believe has the possibility of an absolute game changer. I also applaud whomever had the guts to raise the issue then get both sides of management to sit down and hear the proposal out. That is the way truly innovative businesses should both look and act.

You can find this demonstrated years ago when someone from either Fedex™ or the USPS™ decided to put down the swords and discuss that maybe, just maybe, they could use (help) each other. Not to mention Microsoft®’s infusion of capital as a lifeline when Job’s returned. For those who don’t remember that was a time where each side had such disdain for the other it made the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s look tame.

So just how big of deal is this you ask? Again, I’ll state: This can be just as disruptive to the enterprise or business side of the marketplace as the iPhone® was to all phones that came before it. And I don’t think I’m using hyperbole either. Let me explain…

As of today most phones, laptops, and other accoutrements used in business for lack of a better term are “PC” based. Apple has always been relegated to lower than second tier status when it came to enterprise based integration. There was no need to even accommodate let alone integrate. iPhone with its near ubiquitous adoption has changed all of that along with giving rise to: the app.

Today apps can be written and implemented far more quickly than ever before incorporating something that for the longest time has been a hindrance to Apple as to penetrate into the enterprise side: Third party enterprise software creation and collaboration.

The app via the new iOS and more changes all of that. This is not a small technical development. This breaks the windows and fosters a torrent of fresh air as to ventilate a very stale environment within the business world.

Just how many would relish dumping their shoulder-bagged laptops for an iPad® that could do the same if not more? What’s the market potential in just a 10% adoption rate let alone more?

These aren’t small numbers for companies of this size and scale: These small percentages which appear tactically attainable add up to really big business.

If there was truly a useful example for the over used term of “synergy” this just might be it for the many who now carry multiple devices either traveling or just sitting at their desk. i.e., Their personal iPhone, a work PC based laptop, their iPad, a work supplied BlackBerry™ (a what?) or other devices.

If you could trade all that in where you would only need one. And – it would work along with being corporate approved? That changes everything – again!

The implications here I can not stress enough on how game changing this has the potential to be. Yet, this is by no means the end. There’s even more to this if one has been paying attention for it involves changing another game as well.

What does this do for players such as Microsoft® (MS)? Does it hurt or help? Personally, I think it helps. This first round of collaboration might be the very thing that focuses MS attention back where it belongs: Developing and improving their software products, and getting out of the hardware business. e.g., The Surface™, and others.

They too are now doing more with Apple such as Office™ on the iPad. Strengthening that relationship and increasing the ability of even more integration will enhance or defend their position within the enterprise space. After all, if you jettison a laptop for an iPad, but both are running Office, MS doesn’t lose. It remains in the mix maybe even more viable or relevant than before on the newer device. The laptop or other device maker? Not so much.

What does this do for Google™? Does this now change Android®’s place? I believe it does. If there is a sudden acceptance and growth opportunity in a market that was once seemingly unreachable but now shows promise of expansion, with the ability to make real money; where do you think developers will now focus? Again, just a 10% change in adoption and you’re talking very big numbers and that’s real money.

Let’s also not forget just how slighted Apple took to Google’s entrance in the smart phone market. It’s easy to forget the absolute vitriol displayed by Steve Job’s in his condemnation of Google. In some respects it seems like ancient history. But there have been very noticeable yet subtle changes across the web that has yet to be fully realized or noticed.

Within Apple’s newest OS and more: Bing™ is the new default search as opposed to Google. Significant? You bet it is. And for multiple reasons.

First: How many will notice? Even if only 5% or 10% never do that’s a huge number of potential ad revenues coming right out of Google’s pocket going right into MS.

Don’t confuse the rivalry between MS and Apple as one of a blood feud. Apple remembers all too well that it was Gates and MS that supplied the life line to allow Apple to stay alive when nearly everyone else turned their backs. Helping MS while hurting Google is a two birds with one stone win-win for Apple as a whole.

Lest I remind anyone with all this new-found ability to incorporate more MS tools which are prevalent throughout the enterprise zone, upgrading to an Apple device they can use for business (again management approved) makes the price point much more tolerable (or bearable) over the Android platform.

Also it’s hard to sweep under the rug Google’s newest tweaks to its search results. These changes have been increasingly criticized by many businesses as of late. The Ebay™ controversy is just one of the latest. Now with Bing exposed with a far more greater default reach, who’s to say how many might feel the ad dollars placed on Google might make better sense applied to Bing? Again, just 10% and you’re not only talking big numbers: you’re talking potentially very, very, big, and very real money.

Using myself as an example. I use Mozilla™ as my default browser and my recently updated version now defaults to Bing as the search engine. What I’ve noticed? I haven’t needed to toggle back – yet. As a matter of fact I don’t know if I truly realized the change when it first happened. And I use search quite a bit.

If the same happens in a new and expanded enterprise market via Apple based devices and more: The market share takeaway could be significant.

All this and wait there’s more!!!

Add to this if at the next product unveiling Apple does actually introduce a larger screened phone along with the potential to be integrated fully into the business side? How many people have you heard (or possibly said yourself) “If Apple only made a phone with a larger screen I would switch immediately.” How much market share do they pick up there as well? 5%, 10%? Even so, those seemingly innocuous looking number have absolutely huge disruptive potential.

It is quite possible this IBM deal along with the implications it has for the enterprise side may have just as much if not more impact on one thing that has been illusive to Apple thus far. Solidifying and stamping Tim Cook’s leadership as proof positive he’s the worthy successor of this now iconic brand.

This also has the potential to give a company so infused with the reverence of Job’s the possibility to move beyond him in such a way that even Job’s himself would say: Wow!

This truly will be a story worth watching to see how it all plays out. And so far, I like the intro.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr