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UPDATE 1-GE's CEO sees more partnerships ahead for digital business

(Adds detail about GE's strategy and outside comment)

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 25 (Reuters) - General Electric Co will use alliances to build its digital-industrial business in coming years, Chief Executive Officer John Flannery said at a conference on Wednesday.

GE has said it plans to scale back its own investment in its GE Digital business in 2018, from about $2.1 billion this year. Last week, GE announced a partnership with iPhone maker Apple Inc.

GE's cloud-based software platform, known as Predix, aims to connect factories, power plants and other industrial equipment to computers that improve performance and predict outages. But Predix's limited capabilities and performance problems have caused GE to lose out to competitors such as Siemens AG and startups such as Uptake and C3IOT.

GE also said it was expanding its partnership with Microsoft Corp, allowing it to provide access to Microsoft applications on Predix. But the specifics largely duplicated what the companies said when they first announced a partnership in July 2016.

GE said on Wednesday that Predix will be generally available on Azure in the United states on Nov. 30, months later than the original target of the second quarter of this year.

"Realizing they can't build their own ecosystem, GE is going to build it with partners so they can implement it quickly," said Gary Mintchell, chief executive of The Manufacturing Connection, an industrial-internet-focused research and consulting company. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Leslie Adler)