Apple and IBM announce a mega deal that changes the mobile enterprise as we know it -- during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.
Microsoft lays off 18,000 the same week at its conference, about 14 percent of its workforce.
And there's actually a silver lining for Microsoft?
Yes, says Richard Edwards, principal analyst for Enterprise IT at London-based Ovum Research.
"It’s no coincidence that the announcement came as Microsoft was holding its Worldwide Partner Conference," Edwards told CMSWire, "but I actually think the IBM/Apple hook-up will benefit Microsoft in the long run."
Microsoft Gets Wiggle Room
And that would be because ...?
"From a devices perspective, I believe it will draw focus away from Android -- and from Samsung in particular -- enabling Microsoft to grow its devices footprint in the enterprise, which is already at 18 percent here in the UK, with a target of 40 percent by 2015," Edwards said.
What else is good for Satya Nadella and Co.? Bringing more iPads into the enterprise. This way, Edwards said, the company can help its customers manage those devices either via Windows Intune or its Enterprise Mobility Suite.
The productivity market is Microsoft’s stronghold in the enterprise, and here again I see no downside for Microsoft," Edwards said. "IBM already has iPad and iPhone apps for its productivity offerings, so there’s nothing new there. And the announcement talks specifically about vertical industry apps, so those new iPads running these vertical apps will be targets for email -- Exchange/Exchange Online -- and Office software from Microsoft."
So who is not sitting pretty here? That could be Google, Edwards said, "especially as Microsoft now appears fully committed to doing a good job with Office/Office 365 on iPad, iPhone and Mac."
Will Google run and team with an SAP, an Accenture or an Oracle?
Danielle Levitas, general manager for mobile research for the IDC, sees that as a realistic next step. Through that, Google could "shore up their enterprise" mobility suite and ultimately "optimize on Android."
"There's more of an imperative here on Google than there is on Microsoft," Levitas told CMSWire of boosting their status in the mobile enterprise. "Microsoft can do it, it's just a matter of how quickly it can."
Larry Carvalho, research manager and lead analyst for Platform as a Service (PaaS) at the IDC, does not see the IBM-Apple mega deal as hurting neither Microsoft or Google much.
"The announcement will not hurt Microsoft since they already have a number of large partners like Accenture," Carvalho told CMSWire. "Google is just dipping toe into the enterprise so rather than hurt, it will help them craft their enterprise strategy. Android will need partner support for sure."
So who loses? IBM services competitors will be hurt if exclusive, Carvalho said.
"If truly exclusive, Apple is making a mistake as IBM has low services market share," he added. "Microsoft has low mobile share so it's not as relevant. Google can win on low costs if they add strong security features."
Frank Gillett, vice president and principal analyst serving CIOs for Forrester Research, said he doesn't expect Microsoft to respond immediately.
"But I expect Microsoft to seek a global partner that provides global sales, service and support reach for Windows Phones regardless of who made the handset," he said, adding the Apple-IBM deal "makes it even more challenging for Microsoft to gain ground in the enterprise with Windows Phone."
The biggest challenge is to Google's Android, Gillette said, and not IBM's enterprise competitors.
Van L. Baker, research vice president for mobility with Gartner Inc., said the Apple-IBM deal makes selling the Surface solutions into enterprises no easy task. Apple's iOS devices dominate the enterprise now for smartphones and tablets, and the IBM capabilities in support and app development and mobile services enhances the Apple position.
"In some ways," Baker said, "Microsoft moved first with the deployment of Azure Mobility services during their Build conference so it is more IBM and for that matter AWS responding to Microsoft’s initiative."
Title image by Stefan Holm (Shutterstock)