Why Apple’s IBM partnership was the biggest tech news of 2014

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Steve Jobs and IBM
A lot has changed since Steve Jobs flipped off IBM 30 years ago. Photo: Andy Hertzfeld
Photo: Andy Hertzfield

2014 will go down as one of the biggest years in Apple history. The stock hit record highs. The company’s first wearable was revealed. And Apple dropped $3 billion on its biggest acquisition ever. But of all the huge news Apple dropped in the last 12 months, nothing is likely to have as big an impact as the previously unthinkable announcement that Apple and IBM buried the hatchet and partnered up.

The move was significant not only for the historic aspect of the two rival tech titans uniting, but also for how it will impact all of us in the workplace. In his final note of the year, top Apple analyst Horace Dediu dubbed the IBM partnership “the most significant technology news of 2014.”

That may sound ridiculous considering how much hype Apple Watch is getting ahead of its release, but Dediu points to the first wave of apps created by the partnership. These offer an early indication of just how transformative the relationship could be. For the first time, enterprise apps are being designed for their users (the employees) rather than their employers.

Just take a look at the difference between IBM’s new Expert Tech app compared to the closest equivalent from Oracle, and see which one you’d rather work with:

IBM-vs-Oracle
IBM’s Expert Tech app on the left compared to the Oracle Mobile Field Service app. Photo: Cult of Mac

By tapping into Apple’s design skills, IBM apps bring corporate America into a new age of mobile enterprise apps that will completely change the way you work going forward. And the two companies are just getting started.

“IBM has had to essentially say no to those who buy and yes to those who are paid to use,” say Dediu. “The quality of the experience is evident at first sight. The number of user actions, the number of screens to wade through have been ruthlessly culled. These are concepts and ideas which now permeate app design best practices. Yet they are practices which still elude the spec-driven enterprise software wastelands.”

People laboring away in cubicles deserve good apps too. When the first wave of IBM apps landed earlier this month, Leander and I spent hours combing through apps from IBM’s biggest competitor in enterprise, Oracle. The results were so horrific it was hard to believe companies pay thousands of dollars to use them. Every app looks like it was built in 2008. Now there are finally easy-to-use alternatives that can run on the same devices you use everyday in your personal life.

The best thing about the Apple-IBM partnership is that we all win because of it. Apple gets to sell more iPhones and iPads. IBM makes the enterprise world more dependent on its services. Workers get to use software they actually enjoy, and ultimately customers will be happier too.

Via: Asymco