Apple has entered into a surprising partnership with IT supergiant, IBM. The surprise collaboration is part of an ongoing effort by Apple to bring its devices to the forefront of business operations worldwide.

The main thrust behind the deal comes from a plan by Apple to create more than 100 industry-specific business apps for use with the iPhone and iPad. In turn, IBM plans to optimize its popular cloud services for use with Apple devices, so these devices can be sold directly to companies more easily and frequently.

The announcement, which Apple CEO Tim Cook described as “a large market opportunity for Apple,” would see these apps focus on business, while still maintaining the company’s trademark simplicity and intuitive design. The hope is that, through this greater uptake of Apple software, the iPad will become more than simply a convenience item but a must-have in a number of industries. They will start to tailor-make apps for specific problems within retail, healthcare, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance among others. The first of these apps are expected later this year with the launch of iOS 8.

Shaking up the corporate device world

There has been speculation about what this might do to Blackberry’s image as the corporate device brand of choice. Statistically, most corporate smartphones are only used for emails and scheduling. Apple’s promise of superior functionality will certainly give them a reason to worry.

But it’s not just Blackberry that will have a problem with this. Microsoft has a large stake in all of the aforementioned industries both as a service and hardware provider. It was its goal to make Windows 8 tablets and smartphones the “de facto standard in IT,” says industry analyst Tim Barjarin. Following Apple and IBM’s deal, this may start to look like a missed opportunity.

‘Odd-pairing’

It does appear to be an odd pairing, especially since they were at each other’s throats in the early 80s.

This 1984 Superbowl commercial was intended to paint IBM as a conformist, totalitarian ‘Big-Brother’, whereas the Macintosh was branded as a symbol of freedom and individuality.

The positioning of both brands in their respective markets, however, is perfect for the others’ goals. IBM is deeply rooted in business tech, which allows Apple another outlet for selling iPhones and iPads directly to companies in bulk. On top of this, IBM gets to bask in Apple’s consumer adoration and become a household name–outside of the office.

Apple and IBM have made their plans extremely clear, the rest is down to successful execution.