An Apple and IBM partnership makes sense in the same way Apple selling its products through Walmart makes sense. Apple defended selling through Walmart by saying “Their stores are where ours aren’t.” The kinds of large enterprises where IBM has a presence are the places where Apple has the least penetration. iPads and iPhones are probably present in the executive offices and the sales force, but less so in other departments where central IT rules with impunity.
My corporate IT past makes me twitch involuntarily when thinking of the kind of apps IBM is going to produce, but parts of IBM have already been producing iOS apps for years. I used at least one of them in my corporate days and while it was no Castro or Tweetbot, it was pretty good for an enterprise app.
The other thing is, this doesn’t have to be the permanent solution. It’s possible this relationship is to Apple’s enterprise push as the Motorola Rokr was to the iPhone. Learn, then make it your own way.
I suppose you could make the case that a failure would make corporations even more sour on Apple, but I don’t doubt they’ll like the products. I’d wonder more about IBM’s apps and services but, then, these are already IBM customers. Maybe it won’t turn out to be as huge as Apple and IBM hope, but I still don’t see how it’s anything but upside for them.