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Apple-IBM deal could challenge BlackBerry, Android

Apple has partnered with IBM's enterprise arm to develop business apps for iOS devices, a move that could bring much-needed enterprise features to gadgets that are increasingly being used in the workplace.

Under the exclusive agreement, IBM's data analytics would be put to work on Apple's iPhones and iPads, which will be sold by IBM to its enterprise customers, possibly at a discount.


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

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There are already a lot of Apple devices being used in the workplace but "they don't have a lot of management features on them," said PCMag.com Editor-in-Chief Dan Costa. "Consumers are bringing them into the office, they're using them for work purposes, but it's not the easiest platform for IT managers to sort of get a handle on. And that's one of the things that this IBM deal is going to do. It's going to provide a lot more of those connections for IT managers," Costa said.

Most threatened by the deal is former enterprise mobile leader BlackBerry, whose shares tumbled Wednesday on the news. Some analysts view the company as a lost cause in any case. "BlackBerry is already walking dead," said David Rogers, professor at Columbia Business School.

The embattled smartphone maker told Reuters that the IBM/Apple alliance actually validates its business strategy.

"The news that Apple is partnering with IBM to expand into the enterprise mobility market only underscores the ongoing need for secure end-to-end enterprise mobility solutions like those BlackBerry has delivered for years," the company said in a brief statement.

The deal between Apple and IBM could make iOS devices fiercer competitors to those running Google's Android operating system as well.

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"Android is the market leader in the U.S. They've got a strong platform, they're being used in a lot of enterprises already, but IT managers and businesses are afraid to bet on Android because of security issues, because of management issues ... when you've got an IBM sales rep building solutions just for your business, it's going to make those Apple products seem really, really attractive," Costa said.

—By CNBC's Althea Chang. CNBC's Matt Hunter contributed to this report.