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Apple and partnerships—seriously?

It's incredible to see the spirit of collaboration now wandering through Apple's hallways. Once Apple was an isolated company seeking to wall in its devices and software into controlled products; an ecosphere only Apple could be rewarded by. But no longer is that the case.

This week's announcement with IBM to work jointly on cloud and big data projects is a striking moment for the company. It continues Apple's efforts to collaborate with partners to broaden its potential for revenue growth. It's all about top-line growth.

Read MoreApple, IBM in massive enterprise hardware, software partnership

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Paul Sakuma | Feature Photo Service | AP
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

This partnership is indicative of Apple's new view. The company is more open. It's more comfortable with admitting mistakes (remember Maps?). It's more collaborative, it seems, both within and outside of the company.

Apple has even started a blog for developers for its new coding system for app developers. The developer community was astounded to find that Apple is actually communicating about the best ways to develop applications for the firm's devices. The company appears to be opening up its home-automation efforts to third-party developers which creates another new stream of revenue growth. A new view on openness seems to be Apple's focus.

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Apple is essentially identifying partners and strategic relationships that can help leverage their brand so others can help propel revenue growth (with others' marketing budgets and ad dollars). Shared wins are now A-OK. It's a strategy that Steve Jobs might have disapproved of, given his nature for controlling product and software. But nevertheless, it's a path that Apple is moving on and is directly reflective of the perspective adopted by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

This latest collaboration is an important one for Apple as it moves the company into the enterprise space, a space that had been conquered by BlackBerry, but whose fortunes have clearly imploded. IBM's services and cloud skills, combined with Apple devices and technology expertise, is an attempt to put the cloud and big data into the hands of ground-level users. The interview with Tim Cook and Virginia Rommety was an interesting one. Once you get past all superlatives, you will see that this initiative is exactly what the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, has been proposing as the path forward for Microsoft.


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If you have read my posts in the past, you know that I believe Apple is not simply a company focused on building technology but is also a monster retail and marketing force. Their focus is on selling product and, under Tim Cook, they're willing to allow partnerships to generate sales. The purists may hate it but, for better or worse, this is the direction Apple is headed.

The risk, of course, for Apple is that they will water down the brand. The historic claim to fame for this company has been a limited number of SKUs and intense focus on a small group of products. No more will this be the case. Apple wants to be everywhere.

Ready or not, Apple is looking to be in your business, in the car, in the home, your pocket and everywhere else. It's Tim Cook's vision and it's playing out right now as evidenced by the IBM agreement. Who says Tim Cook is a laid-back guy? These moves strike me as aggressive and designed to grow Apple revenue beyond what many experts predict as possible. It's a new age for Apple and one dominated by Tim Cook's vision.

Commentary by Michael A. Yoshikami, the CEO and founder of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California. He is also a CNBC contributor.

Disclosure: I have no personal ownership of Apple stock. We are buyers of the stock for client portfolios. I own an iPhone, a Galaxy Note, and an Android tablet. My company is a mix of PCs running Windows 7 (not 8!) and Macs.

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