What Does the Apple-IBM Partnership Mean for Investors?

Enterprise deal could boost sales of iPhones and iPads and help IBM overcome its revenue problem. Where is Google in all this?

Jul 23, 2014 at 5:30PM

What a difference 30 years makes. Back in 1984, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) were bitter adversaries in the PC business. Today, the two tech giants are partners in a venture where Big Blue will help sell iPhones and iPads to its corporate clients and develop apps that will allow big businesses to access IBM analytics from Apple devices.

The collaboration, IBM MobileFirst for iOS, will focus on four areas:

  1. iPhone and iPad business apps
  2. iOS cloud services
  3. AppleCare services for the enterprise
  4. Mobile device management by in-house IBM staffers

Apple has a new sales division
In effect, IBM will help create a new market for the mobile devices specialist. The high-end consumer smartphone and tablet industry is showing some signs of slowing down as lower-priced, but just as capable, devices gain traction. Apple rival Samsung just reported less than stellar quarterly results as it starts to feel the effects of those sagging sales.

The opening of a brand new business opportunity would undoubtedly be positive for Apple and its investors, even as the company is set to continue its decade and a half long mobile revolution this fall by releasing a slew of products that are mostly meant for consumers, including updated versions of the iconic iPhone and iPad.

Big Blue needs a revenue boost

The partnership could be a boost for IBM investors too as it might help reverse the downward spiral in revenue which has plagued the company for the past few years.

IBM Chart

IBM data by YCharts

It appears IBM MobileFirst for iOS, in which the company is committing up to 100,000 employees, will be the next thing that IBM brings out of its toolkit to try to boost revenue. Big Blue has tried a number of things as it tries to climb out if its hole:

  1. Commercialization of the game show winning supercomputer Watson, which is has tremendous potential the medical, financial services, and retail industries. 
  2. A new $3B chip technology research program to be used to help improve its own products and create licensing agreements with other companies. 
  3. Shareholder activities such as dividend increases and share count reduction.

IBM Dividend Chart

IBM Dividend data by YCharts

Foolish conclusion
Apple and IBM plan to work together and develop MobileFirst for iOS. Shareholders of both companies will benefit if the partnership is successful in making inroads into the enterprise market. In the case of Apple this new business will help if a slowdown in the consumer market materializes. For IBM, the added revenue will be welcome. 


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Mark Morelli owns shares of Apple and International Business Machines. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and International Business Machines. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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