CUPERTINO -- What a difference 30 years can make.

Apple and IBM, fierce rivals in the early days of personal computers, announced a partnership Tuesday that seeks to push Apple's popular mobile devices into the hands of Big Blue's corporate customers with IBM's infrastructure and software expertise on board.

"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," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a news release. "This is a radical step for enterprise and something that only Apple and IBM can deliver."

Apple established itself as an alternative to IBM in the early days of PCs, iconically presented in the "1984" Super Bowl ad that introduced the Macintosh line of computers and represented IBM as equivalent to Big Brother in George Orwell's classic novel. IBM has left the consumer device market, however, selling its PC business to Lenovo and focusing on software and services for enterprise customers, many of which are struggling to support the Apple devices their workers purchase on their own.

"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," IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in announcing the deal.


Advertisement

The two companies will collaborate on a suite of apps that will be called IBM MobileFirst for iOS, which will offer more control to IT departments and offer specific functions for different industries, with the first offerings expected in the fall. Apple will start a new version of its AppleCare customer service specifically for the enterprise, with Apple handling calls from IT professionals while on-site service calls will be performed by IBM representatives.

Apple has become the most valuable company in the world thanks to consumer adoption for its mobile devices, and its lack of a real foothold in the corporate world has been upended by the Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, phenomenon. Forrester Research reported earlier this year that Apple received about 8 percent of the money spent worldwide by business and governments on computers and tablets in 2012, up from 1 percent in 2009; the research group predicted at the time that Apple's share would grow to 11 percent by 2015.

With investors hungry for new Apple revenue sources, the company's stock jumped in after-hours trading following Tuesday afternoon's announcement: After falling 1.2 percent to $95.32 in the regular session, shares neared $97 in late action, which would be a new 52-week high for the Cupertino company's stock.

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.