By Asa Fitch
Tech giants Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are joining forces to support the growing number of companies developing apps and other software for Apple devices.
Under the agreement disclosed Monday, Amazon is making Apple computers available through Amazon Web Services, its cloud-computing business--enabling Apple developers to make and fully test apps remotely, rather than having to buy and maintain their own versions of the machines.
This could aid developers who are at the heart of a software and services strategy that is an increasingly important sales driver for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple.
Initially, the Apple computers in Amazon's data centers will be a version of the Mac Mini that has been available for some time, but David Brown, an AWS vice president, said the hardware will be updated as Apple launches new equipment. In November, Apple unveiled a Mac Mini powered by a chip it designed, called the M1, supplanting Intel Corp. chips. Mr. Brown said Amazon aims to install M1-based Macs early next year.
"We're going to support the Mac operating system and Mac machines--whichever ones customers want access to," he said.
Many developers of software running on non-Apple hardware have been using cloud services for years. But to develop and test software for Apple devices, they typically had to buy and maintain their own Macs, given Apple's tight hardware-software coupling and the lack of Mac hardware at major cloud vendors. Amazon is betting that introducing Macs will allow companies developing software such as iPhone and iPad apps to improve their offerings faster while avoiding the hassle of managing and scaling up hardware.
Several companies have already started working with AWS's Macs, including Intuit Inc., the developer of popular tax-preparation software, and Amazon's own Ring video-doorbell unit, the Seattle, Wash.-based company said.
The Macs that Amazon is using are essentially the same as those available to the public, adapted to work with Amazon's cloud networking and security infrastructure and with their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules turned off, Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown declined to say how many Mac Minis Amazon was installing, but said the scale was suitable a major cloud-computing operation like AWS.
The other major cloud-computing providers, Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, don't currently offer access to Mac machines.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires