Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) delivered their first set of business-centric applications for iPhone and iPad users, following their landmark deal to work together in the enterprise computing space earlier this year. The IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions can be customized to an organization’s needs, and will be linked to a company’s core processes. The applications are targeted at verticals including retail, airlines, financial services, insurance and government. Some initial apps include Plan Flight – which helps airlines cut costs by allowing pilots to better decide how much fuel they must carry based on various factors – and Sales Assist – which enables sales associates to access customer profiles, make suggestions based on previous purchases, check inventory and locate items in-store.
Unlike consumer-oriented tablet and smartphone applications – which are built to be easy-to-use and focused on a few tasks – business applications are usually much more complex and can be less intuitive. However, analysts who have seen the IBM MobileFirst applications have come away impressed.  While the core functionality of the applications have been developed by IBM, Apple has provided inputs on the design and user experience front, making the apps easy to use. We believe that the new applications and the broader IBM partnership could help Apple ship more iOS devices to businesses, while potentially helping the company become a more integral part of enterprise computing.
Our $120 price estimate for Apple is slightly ahead of the current market price.
The Move Could Help iPad Sales In Particular
The iPad has been struggling of late, with shipments declining year-over-year for the last three quarters in a row. As of Q3 2014, Apple’s global tablet market share stood at 23%, compared to 29% a year ago. We see the iPad taking further cuts in the consumer market, owing to increasing saturation in the high-end tablet market and also due to the introduction of the large-screen iPhone 6 Plus. However, we believe that the new enterprise-focused tools could provide some upside for iPad sales. While Apple has been successful in selling the tablet to enterprise users – the iPad accounts for about 73% of tablets in use at U.S. corporations and about 39% globally – the new applications could help to expand the size of the market. 
Although tablets are quickly closing the gap with PCs, with shipments set to surpass PCs in 2015 according to Gartner, the adoption of tablets in business remains marginal. Enterprise tablet penetration stands at just 20%, while notebook penetration stands at over 60%. The Apple-IBM partnership could be a step towards making tablets a more integral part of the enterprise computing infrastructure, as an iPad equipped with quality enterprise-focused software could supplant PCs for several typical business use-cases.