Apple should NOT go after the Enterprise

Scaling / December 10, 2007 / AJ

Based on the comments and emails I received about my last post, it looks like I didn’t make myself clear. I do NOT think it’s a good idea for Apple to go after the enterprise. Going after the enterprise will slow Apple down and we (consumers and small businesses) will suffer from the lack of innovation over time. The reason is simple. Large enterprises are slow to change/love to standardize even if the standards are outdated.

If you look at the Windows world, Microsoft has gone after the enterprise to the detriment of all other markets and the net result is that the PC society has stalled out on innovation. Otherwise, why would the fastest computer in the world that runs Windows be a Mac – even though running Windows is a (strategic) after-thought for Apple? There is even a funny ad about this.

Microsoft has had some good ideas, but they have often had to neuter the idea because it is not enterprise friendly. Do you really think Microsoft couldn’t pull off the various things they said they would? They have tons of engineers – they could do it if they really wanted to do it. They can’t be that incompetent. The issue here is the same as the NeXTSTEP 4 story I mentioned in the last post. Microsoft’s enterprise customers are saying “no, we will not buy that, innovation runs counter to how we operate”.

You shouldn’t confuse Apple taking care of itself as a push towards the enterprise. Those improvements to Mac OS X that make it more enterprise friendly are for Apple’s own needs, not for the enterprise market (education market being the exception).

I say leave the enterprise to Microsoft and let it become the IBM of tomorrow. Let Apple take the consumer and small business space. Besides, small businesses employ more people as a sum total than large enterprises and that trend will continue (much to my delight). And the job of SMB is to run circles around the large enterprises and push innovation – and the economy – forward.

In the U.S. small businesses generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade. “In the most recent year with data (2004), small firms accounted for all of the net new jobs. Firms with fewer than 500 employees had a net gain of 1.86 million new jobs. Large firms with 500 or more employees lost more jobs than they created, for a net loss of 181,122 jobs”.

Also – just so we are on the same page – by small business, I mean businesses with less than 200 employees (maybe less than 500 as the above link suggests).

So once again – let Microsoft cater to the dinosaurs – they don’t know how to innovate anyways. I’m counting on Apple to help society advance forward by not catering to the enterprise.

Until next time…

17 Responses to “Apple should NOT go after the Enterprise”

  1. I can”t think of anything that would destroy Apple quicker than Catering to the enterprise market.
    Right on!

  2. Constable Odo
  3. Even if Apple doesn’t go after IT in a big way, it could at least do it in a small way. Exchange Server sync and push e-mail for the iPhone. Take RIM out at it’s knees. It seems many executives are clamoring for the iPhone and maybe once the SDK hits the streets the iPhone could be indispensable for businessmen on the move. It would surely boost iPhone sales everywhere and keep the momentum flowing currently and with deferred revenue further out. Imagine a corporation ordering a thousand iPhones at a clip. The users would just love them.

  4. Tom B
  5. Turn it around: Eneterprise should instead seek to join the 21st century and upgrade to Mac.

    Apple could help by spending an afternoon or two writing and Enterprise-ready Exchange-killer and giving it away for free. IT dudes may like Exchange; users sure don’t.

  6. lrd
  7. I agree you.

    Apple needs to stay focused on the pro-sumer and consumer markets. Why waste any effort, when 95% of it will fall on death ears?

    Also, keep in mind that with rising fuel and labor cost, big business is looking for ways to keep things simple and lean- a platform change isn’t in line with this mantra.

    A small business agenda would pay off 10x more than larger companies.

  8. I hear arguments like this from time to time but I don’t completely agree with them. I am a Apple user at home since the MacPlus, an Apple user at work with a MacBook Pro as well as an enterprise customer with racks of XServe boxes. Apple create and improved the XServe at the same time as it created OS X and the newest Macs, iLife, etc. Here is the trick… there is more than one person, more than one team at Apple. They really can do more than one thing at a time (with the exception to that being Leopard and the iPhone apparently). So far at least, creating a good enterprise solution drives Apple to make things secure, fast and reliable. That’s not a bad thing for Apple to be focusing on for anyone.

  9. Hey, according to your definition, isn’t Apple itself a dinosaur?

    Large enterprises are slow to change/love to standardize even if the standards are outdated.

    the dinosaurs… don’t know how to innovate anyways.

  10. AJ
  11. Good argument Tim – I’ll submit that Apple is an exception specifically because of Steve Jobs. At other levels, Apple is no different than a lot of enterprises.

    BTW – those that don’t know, Tim is the creator of Nu – an awesome interpreted language on top of Objective-C.

  12. James Katt
  13. It would be far better for the mountain to come to Apple than Apple to go to the mountain – as the old saying goes.

    As Apple innovates and moves whole industries ahead, and developes very useful products, big business cannot help but coming to Apple because Apple’s products attact business from the inside-out – where workers and even CEOs drive the need to use Apple products.

    Further, by Apple ignoring big business, it creates enormous opportunities for third party products to bridge that gap. This creates an ecosystem that supports Apple’s products. This is the opposite of Microsoft – which tries to eat third parties and take over the industry. But this works well for Apple because the ecosystem it creates supports the purchase of more Apple products – just like the iPod accessory ecosystem does.

    Apple does not need to gain marketshare. The most important thing is to make profit (this is coming from an Apple shareholder). Chasing the lowest denominator like Dell is the wrong way for Apple. Far better to be itself – to create the best products it can make.

  14. AJ
  15. James, you are right – I think the mountain will come to Apple – from the inside out. People within enterprises will demand Apple products (or just buy them and bring them in) and it will force IT to adapt.

    I have no problem with that. What I don’t want is for Apple to cater specifically to the enterprise in the way Microsoft does.

    Apple must remain focused on the end-user.

  16. AJ – When was the last time we saw mothership Apple cater to enterprise’s needs/wants/desires? All I’ve seen is an Apple being very selective about how and when they roll out their integration solutions. I see Apple continuing to play “their game” and adopting open standards in lieu of the proprietary ones when and where possible.

    James Katt is adding a nice perspective as a fellow shareholder… why would we as shareholders want Cupertino to emulate anyone in the PC/OS business right now? We have a great thing going as it is. Why ruin it?

    BTW, your shirts made it to London and consequently saw a LOT of exposure. 50 or so influential bloggers (and Edelman folk).

    -Gerald, Tulsa

  17. Orlando Smith
  18. Though I agree with the idea that Apple shouldn’t cater to the enterprise to the extent that doing so would hinder its innovation, corrupt its principles, or lessen the quality of its products, Apple can cater to the enterprise in ways that don’t hinder its innovation, debauch its principles, and/or cause it to make crappy products. And I think that is exactly what Apple has done with OS X Leopard, Leopard Server, Xserve, Xserve Raid, its client computers, and some of its other products.

    UNIX certification isn’t required by Apple, SMB, or consumers. UNIX certification is for the enterprise and education markets. Apple has designed OS X Leopard and Leopard Server so that they will work well in the enterprise, but it has done so in a way that is consistent with what make Apple a great company: its focus on innovation, users’ experience, the guiding principles of its culture (e.g., not willing to make anything less than the best computers in order to maximize profits), and its insistence on top quality.

    If Apple can carter to the enterprise in profitable ways, yet maintain the core values of its culture, Apple benefits, SMB benefits, consumer benefit, and yes, enterprise benefits from having available and using the best computers in the world.

  19. AJ
  20. Thanks Gerald,

    Apple currently does not cater to the enterprise, but so many people want it to and that is what I’m concerned about. I’d like them to stay focused on the consumer and small business space.

  21. […] Forrester Group analysts Benjamin Gray and Robert Whiteley illustrate my point on why Apple should stick to its knitting in the consumer and small business markets with his latest piece on why the iPhone is not for the Enterprise. This is backed up with a few well-argued qualifications, by Larry Dignan at ZDNet. […]

  22. Enterprise is like an anchor on innovation.

  23. Jon T
  24. I don’t ever see Apple bowing to the enterprise.

    I do see the enterprise bowing to its users.

    Interesting blog – thanks.

  25. Don
  26. There is really nothing that is done on a Mac that can’t be done on a Windows machine. The difference is that Apple has made the make clear and easy to use rather than a complex series of exercises that often end in frustration and failure.

    In fact, two of Apple’s biggest hits, the iPod and iPhone are not unique at all. There were, and remain, lots of music players and cell phones. Again, what Apple did was make them solid, usable, and even elegant.

    I respectfully disagree with the conclusion of Alykhan Jetha, But Apple doesn’t have to “go after the Enterprise.” All they have to do is what they always do: offer the same things offered by Windows for the Enterprise by make it solid, easy to use, elegant, and include what is needed and desired rather than plagued with feature bloat.

    Then the Enterprise will move to “the other white meat.”

  27. Ron
  28. There are plenty of opensource exchange alternatives out there. Apple just needs to do the same it has with Mac OS X. Use the underlining Open Source software and tweak the user interface:

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