THIS I wrote almost two years ago and surprise surprise, I was quite close to what happened lately with IBM and Apple. Quick read? I’ll wait.
(Dumdidumdi… have to mow the lawn again. Stupid rain … Oh, the cat (Floh, because he had flees when we got him) under my table is dreaming again. Sounds like a fight with someone. Haven’t heard him growl like that since that stupid orange tom attacked him)
Ready? Good. Overall it seems that I had the same ideas than IBM and Apple. Their products do not overlap, Apple needs, or rather wants more foothold in the B2B market. Only IBM doing something in the customer market, isn’t mentioned at all, which I think is a mistake. But I am getting ahead of things again. Let’s read the Press Info. (Dumdidum and so on)
Does somebody strike something there? Mostly it talks about what IBM is going to do. There is hardly any mention of Apple, bar the enterprise care plan.
The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change—grounded in four core capabilities:
- a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
- unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
- new AppleCare® service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and
- new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.
Apart from the selfworshipping in the first part, it’s more or less IBM stuff for iOS. Apple will certainly help with the design – meaning look-and-feel and IBM needs every help it can get – but otherwise, it’s all about IBM’s cloud offering.
For me, that does not sound like a partnership between equals. Taking in account IBM’s current problems with declining revenue, that looks more like IBM’s grasp at a straw.
If that concept fails Apple has still its consumer market, where it shines and if Apple decides it can do it without IBM in B2B, it will. For IBM it would be a lot of lost money it can’t pay to share holders, a lot of lost time it does not have to turn around and again lots of pissed off customers and partners.
Analytics also comes into play again. I don’t believe in a huge market. Analytics can become quickly much too complicated for most people and specialists in that field are in short supply. Most companies will do without or will try to mimic it by using SQL and spread sheets.
But IBM has 400 mathematicians(!) that can help. That will be the same problem as with business ratios. Most managers do not understand where the numbers come from and with analytics it will even get worse. Ratios and numbers that change with time without any clear meaning because nobody remembers the algorithm. That’s like being on the Titanic. The music is still playing, therefore it can’t be that bad. As of lately it was estimated, that of all companies using analytics, only about 40% of managers or employees understand what they are doing. That isn’t a too good ratio. If the numbers are wrong and management does not know it, they could be in for a surprise. (But hey, if a new product fails, managers now have a new culprit. „Not my fault, Analytics was to 89% positive, couldn’t help it that we happened to be in the last 11%“. And they can never be proven wrong. What a job security mechanism.)
But let’s look at the latest news from Mail Next. Kramer hints that about 60 % of all the stuff on mobile devices is mail and calendar. There is hope for a iOS based mail and calendar client from IBM? And Apple is doing the look and feel? Nice idea, isn’t it.
Somehow the whole story isn’t consistent, regarding Mail Next, Mobile First, Cloud first, Apple and IBM. For the mobile devices, IBM will have to build apps, which are „rich“ clients. On the other hand, there is no mention of any rich client on „traditional“ clients. PCs and Macs should go to the Mail Next web client.
Both IBM and Apple have rich clients for Macs and mobile devices. Logically I would think, something has to go. Apple will not let go of the Apple Mail client, neither on iOS, nor on OSX. Quo vadis Notes? Using Outlook as a front end, the browser plugin for Domino applications and the browser for XPages? That’s a three window hell (And it will not work for me anyway, since there is no browser plugin for anything on the Mac). A mail app from Apple, a mail app from IBM, two calendar apps and two „Notes“ apps. Does that look good for Notes on iOS or OSX?
But what about the applications? It would certainly be nice to have local Domino apps for iOS. Xpages could do it. Is IBM planning on an app for iOS for all these Domino applications out there? About ten million as somebody once estimated?
I don’t see the browser plugin come to iOS, but who knows, but if that app does not happen, Domino will be relegated to what every half backed migration expert out there thinks it is, just a mail server. On the other hand, if IBM comes up with an app for that, happy days, suddenly we would have a whole new market to play with. One, where nobody knows or cares about „Notes is Dead“ rumors. (And if it works on iOS, it could also work on OSX, which would be right down my alley). They just want apps that work and do not require a server farm at home for connections … ups, sorry, we are supposed to move to the cloud.
But again, I am just putting Lego pieces together and completely leave out politics.
Now there is another thing that came up in the last few years with cloud offerings. Today many companies outside the US like the idea of mobile first but not the idea of cloud first. In every webcast about IBM’s cloud offerings questions about on-premises come up. Every single time. Why is that? Do customers not trust IBM? The problem is not limited to IBM, every US cloud service, inside or outside the US, has to provide data to the US government on request (secret judge and everything). It does not matter if IBM (MS, Oracle or whoever) tells you, that the customer always knows where his data is. Neither does it matter if IBM firmly believes, that with its data encryption and with the customer only having the key, the data should be save from everybody. Nobody outside the US does trust it.
If IBM wants to shine in that market, the only solution is to sell (in selling and then they own it, not just selling the usage) the cloud software to european, russian, chinese, japanese, swiss and so on companies. These companies can set up the cloud offerings with IBM’s blessing and help, but no piece of hardware or software can be owned by IBM. There should not be any cloud or data contract between IBM and the customer. Only then, some more companies might be reluctantly be ready to move to the cloud.
(BTW, there is still an unused Yahoo data center around the corner. If anybody wants to set up a data center for anything big, Yahoo might want to be willing to sell. I would help to make it work).
Costwise IBM is in for a hard game. Cloud will become cheaper over time until enough players drop out. IBM will need a lot of money and breath to survive this and become a important player. But if you believe in the latest rumors, cloud isn’t the big money maker as the hype makes us believe.
IBM, how about the on-premises offerings? Probably Apple can help there to, how to make updates without anything crashing.
One big argument for cloud always is, from IBM’s point of view at least, the faster upgrade cycle, because IBM does not have to test on several OS’s and hardware configurations. If IBM would just sell the VM’s it uses anyway in its cloud, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore and we could all continue to use our on premises installations or move to the cloud and back without so much as a mouse click. They had them once. Where are they now? I know, some companies just don’t want shrink wrapped VM’s, but if the price tag is right, many arguments will just disappear into oblivion.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see where Notes and Domino goes with iOS… if they are really part of the package.