When Apple and IBM announced a partnership focused on more efficiently spreading iPads and iPhones throughout the corporate world, many were shocked. This was after all, the company Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs dissed (openly) and repeatedly. In the late 1970s and early 80s, IBM was the droning, robotic, corporatized behemoth Apple sought to take down by making computers more personal.
But a lot of things have changed since then. IBM has exited the personal computing business entirely and now focuses on high-end hardware for enterprise as well as software solutions that help companies deal with the cloud and “Big Data.”
Meanwhile, Apple has become one of the wealthiest companies in the world thanks to the millions upon millions of iPhones and iPads it has sold, not to mention the fact that it’s the only manufacturer to see PC sales growing. While the bottom has fallen out from under the rest of the market, Apple sold a record 5.52 million Macs during the fourth quarter this year—up 21 percent from last year.
The only dim spot for the company has been a deceleration of growth in iPad sales. But the company likely feels that can be helped by getting the tablet into more workplaces. And while partnering with IBM definitely gives Apple a leg up in enterprise—a market still dominated by Windows PCs like Dell and HP—the company isn’t stopping with that partnership.
According to a report from Reuters, Apple has been working closely with companies that specialize in software that connects a fleet of devices, and therefore workers. One of those developers the report names is PlanGrid, makers of the popular construction app for iPhone and iPad that allows workers to view and annotate blueprints on the jobsite.
The report doesn’t say exactly what PlanGrid and the other developers have been working on with Apple, but it’s clear the company is looking to better understand the types of applications a fleet of iOS devices is most useful in and how the clients of companies like PlanGrid manage those fleets.
Apple is working to add more developers to this group as part of a “more formal partnership,” according to the report.