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What's next from IBM and Apple?

At IBM InterConnect next week in Las Vegas, attendees will be hankering for insight into IBM’s Apple partnership — news that was sorely lacking at last year’s show.

The two companies made waves in July 2014 by making a deal in which IBM became a glorified value-added reseller of Apple devices, selling iPhones and iPads loaded with custom IBM apps to the enterprise. IBM has developed and delivered 100 different enterprise apps for iOS devices since then. Now, experts wonder what will come next from this partnership.

IBM’s MobileFirst enterprise mobility platform will be a hot topic at InterConnect, with a few sessions even focused on developing apps for iOS using Apple’s latest programming language, Swift.

It is possible that IBM could present a roadmap for its future with Apple. It is more probable, however, that IBM will only tease its plans, and that Apple will announce more specific details at its press event in March, said Jack Narcotta, industry analyst at Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H. At InterConnect, IBM will likely show off the iOS apps it has developed so far and how they have worked for major customers, he said.

IBM plans to develop iOS apps that incorporate Watson, its machine learning platform, and take advantage of the iPad Pro’s larger screen, multitasking features, processing power and more. At InterConnect, the company may demo Watson’s capabilities on iOS apps, setting the stage for an Apple announcement of Watson integration in March, Narcotta said.

“Watson makes it easy to get quick glimpses of what your data is actually doing, and getting an app that can get that real-time info is very valuable,” he said.

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iPad Watson Pro is the platform for a richer and more affluent society. I call that progress.