International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has announced new software dubbed IBM MobileFirst that will let client companies develop secure software for all kinds of mobile platforms. It also said it would work on development with its new partner, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).
The Armonk, N.Y., company said the goal is to harmonize computer networks with growing numbers of employees who use mobile devices like laptops and smartphones to access them securely and comprehensively. IBM said it will deploy its Worklight OS as a platform for all mobile applications.
As well, IBM will work with Dallas-based AT&T to have Worklight access AT&T’s application programming interfaces, mainly for cloud applications. In October, the respective computing and telecommunications giants announced a comprehensive deal to offer global network-enabled cloud services for clients.
The announcement comes just ahead of the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where leading mobile phone makers and network operators make their major product announcements. The congress begins Monday.
“The mobile transportation ability is very large, almost unlimited,” said Andrew Cheng, IBM VP for mobile services. “We want to be interacting directly with our mobile customers.”
At the same time, Cheng said IBM is mindful of special problems posed by the phenomenon called “bring-your-own-devices” (BYOD) which allows corporate users to access their employer’s networks. That poses big security risks.
So the MobileFirst applications will come with embedded security applications, he said, which will offer “context-based” solutions as well as updates to IBM’s current EndPoint Manager security software.
IBM, which has a network of global computer centers, will make them accessible by mobile applications, with enhanced network services for smart phones, tablets and laptops, Cheng said.
IBM also said it will encourage colleges to develop applications to support MobileFirst by offering faculty grants and making Worklight free to academic developers. The company didn’t say how much money will be available for that initiative.
Ed Brill, director for market management for IBM mobile enterprise, said the expansion of the AT&T relationship also should extend to new applications, including speech recognition, paperless transaction processing and other opportunities, all over secure networks.
IBM, already the top U.S. patent holder, said it has 270 wireless patents and has worked with 1,000 customers in the wireless sector. Since 2009, the company has made 10 acquisitions in the sector.
Shares of IBM closed Wednesday at $199.31, down $1.01, up about 4 percent this year. Shares of AT&T closed at $35.47, down 20 cents, up 5 percent since Jan. 2.
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