Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president of IBM Global Business Services, said said the deal had been worked on for some time. "We came at this together," van Kralingen said in a phone interview with TheStreet. "We feel really quite strongly about one another's unique positioning. IBM is the gold standard for enterprise, and Apple is the gold standard for the consumer and consumability."

Both companies will build the IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions -- a new class of "made-for-business apps" -- which will target industries such as retail, health care, banking, travel and transportation, telecommunications and insurance. They will become available starting this fall and into 2015.

With 98% of the Fortune 500 and 92% of the Global 500 using the iPhone and iPad, it strengthens Apple's position in the enterprise using IBM's installed user base, noted Credit Suisse analyst Kulbinder Garcha.

"We view this partnership as positive for Apple in gaining further traction and solidifying its position with Enterprise by leveraging IBM's large installed base," Garcha wrote in a research report. "With enterprise solutions exclusively developed for iOS and tailored services provided from Apple and IBM, the iPhone and iPad will likely see increased enterprise use." Garcha rates Apple shares "neutral" with a $96 price target.

Though terms of the deal were not announced, analysts aren't expecting it to be material to IBM just yet.

"We believe IBM's revenue trajectory remains challenged through 2015, but we look forward to hearing more about how this iOS opportunity impacts the long term," Reitzes wrote in the note. IBM reports second-quarter results Thursday after the close of trading. It's expected to earn $4.29 a share on $24.1 billion in revenue, according to analysts' estimates.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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