OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Apple and IBM, once the most unlikely of allies, on Wednesday announced the first fruits of a partnership aimed at developing new mobile software — and selling more mobile devices — to business customers.
One new app, developed jointly by the two companies, promises to help telecom service workers find their way to customer appointments in the field more quickly, using the GPS on an iPhone or iPad. Another would let flight attendants help passengers change their connecting reservations in midair.
All told, IBM and Apple announced 10 new business-oriented programs for Apple’s popular iPhones and iPads, which are already used widely in commercial settings.
A variety of apps are already available for restaurants, retailers and other businesses, but many are produced by smaller companies or independent developers. Despite a history of rivalry, the two tech giants announced a partnership over the summer to create business-focused apps that combine IBM’s data analytics prowess and knowledge of business requirements with Apple’s skill at creating elegant, user-friendly products.
“This is actually not easy. It’s not like playing Angry Birds,” Bridget van Kralingen, an International Business Machines Corp. senior vice president, said.
She boasted that the new products combine online data analytics and “industrial-strength security” in programs that resemble easier-to-use consumer apps.
While Apple Inc. is known primarily for consumer products, tech rivals like Google and even Facebook have been moving into the lucrative commercial market.
Apple Senior Vice President Philip Schiller suggested it’s not such a stretch for Apple to build business software. The number of companies using iPhones and iPads is “just astronomical, so we already are in the enterprise market,” he said.
The new apps also include specialized programs for airline pilots, bankers, insurance agents, sales clerks and government case workers.
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