IBM and Apple Pic on Jumbotron NYC

For those of us who lived through the early days of the personal computer, last week’s announcement sounded a bit like an Onion story. Could a new partnership between Apple and IBM possibly be real? The press release on the IBM website makes it clear that this is for real. The former arch rivals from the desktop PC market are combining forces to bring IBM’s enterprise-level support for business apps on Apple’s iProducts. And one of the first beneficiaries will be the Health Tech market.

The keystone for the cooperation is IBM’s MobileFirst for iOS, a series of solutions will be created to capitalize on big data management of information that can be accessed by iPhones and iPads. IBM will optimize its cloud services for iOS equipment to provide everything from security to analytics.

For the healthcare industry, this could mean a big jump in standardization and more robust applications. Apple iOS devices are already in wide use throughout hospitals and other healthcare settings. Apple’s historic emphasis on consumer products and apps has resulted in a more casual reputation. This causes problems for medical IT professionals who must operate in a complex and restricted work environment where they are responsible for the security of patient data to comply with HIPAA and other regulations. The promise is that IBM’s enterprise-centric approach can deliver solid solutions that will instill confidence in healthcare settings.

If this partnership can deliver on the best of both companies at affordable prices, this could have significant impact on healthcare automation and the use of mobile data processing. On the other hand, if the worst of each company comes into play, it is not likely to go anywhere. I’ve witnessed too many joint initiatives between very large global companies to want to place a bet on which way this one will turn out. For now, I’m happy to consider the positive potential, and to plan on watching how it develops.