Back in 1984, the thought of Apple and IBM cutting a major deal to take on rival tech firms seemed about as likely as a peaceful resolution to that year’s Miners’ Strike.
But happen it has, with the news today that the two have come together to develop enterprise apps and sell the iPhone to businesses looking for the additional security such applications provide.
In a deal which few saw coming, the two giants of the tech world said they’re also plotting more than 100 native apps for the iPhone and iPad.
On top of that, they’re going to offer special Apple Care programmes for businesses, along with access to IBM cloud services and the chance for companies to buy iPhones directly from IBM, replete with beefed-up security.
The deal could not come at a more important time.
Microsoft has just laid out its ideas for improving its enterprise offering, while earlier this month, Google revealed Android Work and plans to use Samsung’s KNOX security software in future devices.
Meanwhile, BlackBerry is looking to turn a corner, but remains in the doldrums after failing to compete with the iPhone since its launch in 2007.
All of which means that the time for Apple and IBM to strike is now.
Companies know that the iPhone remains enduringly popular among staff, while old-school QWERTY BlackBerry phones and creaking Windows Mobile devices aren’t exactly user- friendly.
The idea of being able to buy in a job lot of devices and have users access a slew of productivity apps from the off must be hugely appealing.
The deal is sure to worry Google greatly. It knows that Android’s inherent security weaknesses mean that its handsets are nowhere near as appealing to enterprise customers.
Even attempting to fix this now will not change impressions overnight.
The iPhone, by comparison, still has the allure of being run and controlled by Apple.
Throw in IBM's nous and you’ve got a package that many will find appealing.
In the meantime, BlackBerry too will be concerned.
It has made strides to turn its business around, but Apple’s move means companies won’t have to rely so heavily on the Canadian mobile-maker’s rock-solid security.
And that means that it’ll have to work extra hard to convince clients to choose it over more modern, easier-to-use iPhones.
Microsoft might be able to provide some fight, but its Windows Phone platform remains a niche concern.
Only time will tell what Apple and IBM can serve up.
But with the deal set to come into fruition just as the new iPhone 6 is due to hit shelves, you can bet that rivals will be desperate to prove they can make better, more viable alternatives.