Corporate IT powerhouses Apple, Unisys unite to conquer world

Actually, they hook up so Apple will have someone to come plug in your iPad in Katmandu.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that Apple has teamed up with Unisys to help increase its penetration of U.S. businesses and government facilities.

Odd pairing, but not actually an unusual one.

Apple's already growing fast in business, but not in traditional form factors. Its market share for all devices has grown from a perennial 5-ish percent market share to 10.6 percent, overtaking Acer as the No. 3 computer maker in the U.S., according to IDC.

Apple already leads in phone and tablets in the business market. An Apple press release said last week that 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are testing or deploying iPhones and 65 percent of the Fortune 100 are testing or deploying iPads.

The iPad is easily the leading tablet computer, a category Gartner predicts will grow from 19.5 million units sold in 2010 to 55 million in 2011 and 208 million in 2014. Analysts said Apple may only sell 4 million iPads this year, due to supply and manufacturing problems, not a lack of sales.

So what does apple need with Unisys?

Service. Boots on the ground. Vans in the yard.

Apple doesn't do a lot of service, like a lot of companies that grew up in the PC era, certainly not the 4-hour global response time many big companies demand. So it hooks up with companies like Unisys which, like a lot of aging mainstream computer companies, have vast service networks but not the technology or cachet to sell their own stuff in enough volume to stay viable.

So the next time you call for Apple support at the office and you're a little disappointed the dude who shows up isn't a hipster Genius, help 'em out. Apple trades on its cool but you may have to spell it for the Unisys guy.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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