Apple expands IBM partnership to distribute & support enterprise Macs for other companies

Apple CEO Tim Cook with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty
Apple CEO Tim Cook with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Apple CEO Tim Cook with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty

Apple and IBM are continuing to develop their partnership first established just over a year ago as IBM announced today a new program to help large enterprises use Macs within their IT infrastructures. IBM’s MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services will allow its commercial clients to integrate Macs in their workplace with IBM supporting the deployment. Interestingly, IBM says it’s able to roll out the new program to commercial clients thanks to its own internal trial that we previously reported.

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With its partnership with Apple, this presented an opportunity for IBM to commercialize this offering using its own experience in enterprise deployment and the ability to scale to clients’ specific needs.

IBM also has been providing these services on a custom basis for a variety of clients and with the growing interest in adopting Macs into the enterprise, IBM is now offering them as a standard services offering.

At the time, we learned that IBM would be deploying up to 50,000 MacBooks internally for its own trial of the program. An internal video later reported by MacRumors recently shows IBM’s chief information officer stating that the number of IBM employees using Macs could potentially grow to some 200,000 employees (and 200,000 Mac sales).


Under MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services, IBM says its clients are able to purchase Macs that are “delivered directly to their employees without any additional set-up, imaging or configuration.” This grows the potential number of Mac sales in the enterprise greatly as it opens new opportunities for clients beyond IBM, and with the enterprise expert’s support behind the effort.

This program allows employees to easily have work Macs to talk to secure networks, access email, and work with business applications without going through difficult and unsupported setup processes. In addition to supporting Macs purchased by clients, the new services extend support to authorized Macs that are owned by employees when clients allow bring-your-own-device practices.

While the focus of the Apple and IBM partnership has centered around Mac deployment in recent months, we’ve also seen the MobileFirst initiative turn out dozens of new iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch apps custom built for various industries including tools for law enforcement, government inspectors, and business travelers. The effort has even resulted in localized versions of these apps for users in Japan. In total, Tim Cook recently said that Apple and IBM would create 100 apps together by the end of this year alone.

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  1. Anyone who remembers the early days of Apple and IBM will certainly believe the world has ended with this report. Steve Jobs’ outright disdain for IBM was well known and almost justified when Microsoft decided to bring out its own OS to compete with Apple on IBM machines. This is an amazing turnaround for Apple and IBM.


Avatar for Zac Hall Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news for 9to5Mac and hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour and 9to5Mac Watch Time podcasts.