When Apple made a surprising deal, in 2014, to work with IBM to deliver mobile apps for the enterprise, it was certainly a sea change from the original dynamic between these companies. Back in the mid-1980s, IBM built PCs running Microsoft’s MS-DOS text-based operating system. This was years before Windows took over, after becoming good enough with the Windows 95 release.
To Apple, IBM was “Big Brother,” yet another faceless corporation delivering gear that was difficult for regular people to use. For the best possible computing experience, they should buy a Mac, with is pretty graphical user interface.
But as PCs became more commoditized, and it became possible to buy near-identical gear from several companies at lower and lower prices, IBM in 2005 sold off its ThinkPad notebook line and other products to Lenovo. Big Blue decided to concentrate on mainframe gear and services. With its Apple deal, not only were special mobile apps developed for the iPhone and iPad, but IBM began to offer employees the choice of Macs over PCs. It was even announced that, although the initial purchase price might be higher, the total cost of upkeep favored the Mac, resulting in estimated savings of $273 to $543 per unit. PCs were simply more complicated to manage.