Technology giants IBM and Apple have teamed up to give the business credentials of iPad and iPhone devices a significant boost, with plans to develop a host of iOS enterprise features including native apps and big data and analytics capabilities.
As part of what is dubbed the IBM MobileFirst for iOS agreement, IBM will also sell iPhones and iPads with industry-specific solutions to its business clients across the globe.
The partnership will see more than 100-industry specific enterprise solutions developed for the iPhone and iPad on an "exclusive" basis, these will be available starting this Autumn in the US.
Meanwhile, IBM's cloud services will be optimised for iOS to include device management (MDM), security, analytics and mobile integration. The MDM service includes a private app catalogue, data and transaction security services, and a productivity suite.
A new feature from Apple as part of the partnership is AppleCare for Enterprises, which will see the California-based firm provide IT departments and end users with assistance from Apple's customer support group on a 24/7 basis, with an on-site service delivered by IBM.
In addition, IBM is introducing packaged offerings for device supply, activation and management services for iPhones and iPads, with leasing options.
The companies aim to make businesses more efficient and effective by enabling them to use business functions on a consumer-based device, a theme which has grown with the bring your own device (BYOD) trend.
"For the first time ever we're putting IBM's renowned big data analytics at iOS users' fingertips, which opens up a large market opportunity for Apple," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.
"This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver."
IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty said that the alliance with Apple will build on IBM's momentum in bringing mobility, big data and the cloud to its clients worldwide.
"We are delighted to be teaming with Apple, whose innovations have transformed our lives in ways we take for granted, but can't imagine living without. Our alliance will bring the same kind of transformation to the way people work, industries operate and companies perform," she claimed.
The alliance between Apple and IBM will put further pressure on BlackBerry, which has seen its share of the enterprise mobile market decline significantly in recent years, and will not have gone down well at Microsoft, which is desperate to lure business users to Windows Phone 8.1.