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IBM and Apple sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g e-n-t-e-r-p-r-i-s-e b-u-y-e-r-s

Macs! People like Macs! And people will like us! Yes, us! scream Big Blue execs

IBM is once again pushing its software-for-suits in tandem with Apple.

Big Blue said it will sell its enterprise customers Mac desktops and notebooks pre-loaded with its IT management software and services. The bundles are aimed at helping IT departments integrate Macs with their current software platforms.

Under the new program, dubbed MobileFirst Managed Mobility, businesses can order Macs directly from IBM and have the Apple machines pre-loaded and configured with IBM's enterprise software and management tools. For larger customers, Big Blue will also allow the Macs to be custom configured to run with internal applications and services.

The Mac push builds on an existing partnership from IBM and Apple to bring the iPhone maker's hardware into IBM's line of business software and services. The move saw IBM not only port its software to iOS and OS X, but also sell Cupertino kit to companies through its direct sales channel.

Most of the tools to come in the Mac bundle are OS X ports from IBM's MobileFirst platform, the software line IBM released for iOS devices. Like the other MobileFirst applications, the software allows end-users to connect their Apple hardware with IBM's larger business software packages.

The Macs will also come pre-loaded with the JAMF Casper Suite management software, a support tool allowing IT admins to remotely manage and service Macs.

In announcing the move, IBM noted that Macs have been bucking the overall downturn in the PC market, and have increased unit sales in recent quarters. This, Big Blue argues, means more employees are wishing to use Macs in the workplace, and it creates an increased demand for IT departments to offer users the choice of a Mac as their company-issued computer.

The partnership, however, has yet to make a major impact in either company's bottom line. Despite the joint push from IBM and Apple to bring the iPad into the business, the tablet saw an 18 per cent drop in sales last quarter, while Big Blue has gone more than three years without reporting a quarterly revenue growth. ®

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