|By Roger Strukhoff||
|July 18, 2014 12:00 PM EDT||
The rather stunning deal between Apple and IBM-described as "exclusive" by both parties-has been hailed as a victory for Apple, a victory for IBM, and a "victory for design."
Actually, it's a victory for Big Data. Apple has cultivated an image as the coolest of companies from the time of its counter-cultural inception, through its anti-Big Brother phase and cultish years of 3% marketshare, to its current status of the Sony of the new century.
Yet the very unhip, dry topic of Big Data was front and center in CEO Tim Cook's remarks about the new agrreement with IBM.
The reason, it seems, is that Cook and the rest of Apple management realize they have a tiger by the tail with the iPhone, iPad, and iOS. Today's mobile devices are powerful enough to deliver highly usable apps and generate gigs and gigs of data over increasingly powerful wireless networks.
No disrespect to top game designers, but the industrial-strength app demanded by companies in the pharmaceutical, transportation, energy, and other big business sectors are not going to be banged out by genius individuals in their apartments. Apple needed IBM to build these post-industrial-strength apps.
The Rebirth of Cool
So the iPhone is cool, too. Can't hurt. But my guess is that Apple brought a very serious business focus in its talks with IBM to ace out Android OS, Blackberry, and Windows phones in this deal. The cool factor was probably low on the list until the public announcement.
More accurately, Tim Cook mentioned Big Data analytics rather than simply Big Data, another sign that his eye is on the serious business aspect of this deal. Analytics, whether in real-time, close time, or more leisurely mining applications, is a golden goose of the Information Age. IBM will keep Apple's goose from getting cooked, even as the company continues to adapt to quickly changing consumer tastes.
This last point could be the ironic aspect of the deal. Enterprise IT managers don't like constant change, and will want some product stability from Apple, even as the company faces slews of consumer-market competitors and a public that wants new toys every year.
For now, this very public marriage of sorts between Apple and IBM has thrust Big Data into the limelight anew. I think that's very cool.
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