This week Apple and GE announced a partnership in which Apple will support GE’s Predix platform with a special IoS integration kit for developers. In some ways it’s a partnership of one of the darlings of the last century with one of the sweethearts of this century.
Although not an earth-shattering announcement, it’s important for these two iconic American companies. They both have deep underlying technology roots. One is associated with industrial sectors while the other is more of a consumer technology brand.
For years, Apple has wanted to gain greater traction into large businesses and be perceived as a provider of enterprise technology. GE has always wanted people to understand its relevancy to consumers in their everyday activities. Remember the old GE ad jingle, "We bring good things to Life” Well, now Apple may be able to help them achieve that goal.
So what do they each get out of this partnership?
· Solidifies a strong partnership with a major global industrial powerhouse that has a large footprint in various sectors like power, water, and transportation. This opens up new ecosystems for partnering, markets for influence and sales opportunities.
· Gets GE committed to giving preference to iPhone and iPads to its 300K+ employees – hopefully the tip of the iceberg in influencing more large companies to use Apple products
· Acquires thousands of new developers from the industrial world who can start accessing Apple’s SDKs for integration with GE’s Predix platform. This helps them attain a foothold in this world, although neither Microsoft nor SAP is quivering in their boots.
· Provides new development opportunities and testbeds for piloting Apple’s Augmented Reality (AR) technology. New initiatives and applications in industrial sectors could be useful for design, maintenance, service, support and training.
· Increases exposure and long-term sales opportunities to more blue-collar workers involved in industrial applications.
· Achieves another stamp of approval for their Predix platform which they are pushing as the heart of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
· Immediately adds significant developer resources and capabilities to their ecosystem
· Differentiates GE from other industrial companies competing in this space like Siemens, Schneider Electric, Bosch, Honeywell, etc.
· Leverages the halo of Apple’s “cool” factor and potentially provides eye candy and use cases with colorful dashboards, graphic analytics, equipment status diagrams and other remote monitoring and management tools.
· Taps Apple’s sales teams to be trained on and “promote” the Predix platform to their customers. Not clear how this will work. Is this a simple referral, an integrated sales effort, one supported with quota and commission? Only time and more details will tell how real this sales effort is. This may be one way to measure how deep the relationship really goes.
Although not specifically highlighted in the announcement, this partnership could enable Apple to partner with GE in medical systems also. Apple has expressed interest in getting into the health care sector and has been sniffing around several partnerships and acquisitions in the last month.
Overall the announcement seems to benefit both companies and complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses. The question is, will they create real new value through tangible products and services over the next year that improves business outcomes?
I’m sure we can expect to hear more details at the Mind and Machines conference coming up next week. Let me know if you have other observations.
Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 30 years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value.