IBM announced on Thursday, April 2nd that it had signed a partnership with China Telecom to offer and manage corporate mobile apps. Analysts note this deal is just the latest deal between IBM and Chinese firms. IBM’s strategy is to build its presence and win favor in China through local partnerships.
According to a statement, the deal will allow state-owned China Telecom to install IBM’s MobileFirst service, which assists businesses in managing apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices, on its servers.
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More on IBM – China Telecom deal
MobileFirst is the product of a partnership between IBM and Apple. IBM has created a slew of iPhone and iPad apps to help shipping companies manage freight or provide medical professionals with health records via smartphone.
Sources say 24 apps have been translated into Chinese so far, and additional apps are being developed for the retail, travel and tourism, transportation, government and healthcare sectors.
Statement from IBM managing partner in China
Nancy Thomas, a Beijing-based IBM managing partner, noted in a telephone interview with Reuters that IBM plans to work closely with China Telecom, the largest cloud provider and the largest fixed-line carrier in China.
“When we think about technology sharing, that is the first foundation we’ll be working on when we’re bringing MobileFirst to China Telecom’s cloud,” Thomas commented.
Although multiple sources have reported that Beijing has unofficially banned the use of iPhones in sensitive departments, Thomas did not specifically address that issue, but spoke of the broad market opportunity for a Chinese economy that is transitioning into the mobile age.
She did mention that the deal with China Telecom was already underway before the Chinese government announced the new regulations, but she would not make any comment on the potential effect of the new policies on the MobileFirst business.
“We’re looking to China Telecom to be the foundation to give clients confidence” in the service’s security, she continued.
New Chinese regulations “icing out” foreign tech firms
Claiming cybersecurity worries, the Chinese government announced new regulations last month that urge state-affiliated companies to buy more tech products from domestic suppliers and avoid foreign tech firms. Western business lobbies have protested the new regulations as protecting Chinese companies and an attempt to force technology transfer.