Marketcircle Blog How Apple is getting into the Enterprise
Marketcircle Blog

How Apple is getting into the Enterprise

Scaling  December 4, 2007  AJ

A lot has been said about how Apple should attack the enterprise market. I used to think that that would be a good thing in order to grow market share. My argument was that people will buy for home what they use at work. The day of the consumer influencing business was gone – that happened in the 80’s and the 90’s and now Apple had to do the reverse – influence business and thus influence the home. Of course, back then, the iPod had just launched and iPhone wasn’t even a flicker in our eyes.

We (the people that argued for the enterprise push) where frustrated at Apple for not pursuing that market. After some reflection, I came to realize that if Apple did indeed pursue the enterprise, their level of innovation would slow down – probably significantly. Why do I believe that? Because I was there when NeXT had to revert their new and fantastic interface in NeXTSTEP 4 to their NeXTSTEP 3 interface because all the enterprise customers refused to buy the upgrade – the cost of retraining their staff was too high. I remember being very sad the day I learned that. Somehow I had forgotten that lesson – but thankfully, Steve Jobs didn’t.

Steve Jobs has said it many times, Apple will innovate and that innovation is the avenue for Apple’s long term success. If Apple has to worry about keeping slow moving enterprises happy, it cannot innovate and thus it cannot have success. Just look at how much effort and work Microsoft has to put into maintaining all kinds of backwards compatibility. It’s the ball and chain that will render it as “just another tech company” and topple it from the top. While Microsoft has tried to make a somewhat new OS that is backwards compatible, Apple has shed the Mac OS, the classic environment and the PPC processor. Just think about that for a second.

Being the authors of Daylite & Billings, we know there is a price to pay to keep up with this innovation. At each major OS upgrade, we’ve had to struggle to make Daylite work right with the new OS. It’s a pain and it’s costly, but it is absolutely the right thing to do.

The irony in all of this is that Apple is actually getting into the enterprise. As good an argument it is, I do not think Winn Schwartau’s reasoning of lower cost ownership, while true, is driving this trend. This trend is driven by the users who first experience Apple’s ease of use via an iPod or increasingly via an iPhone, who then take a very small risk and buy a Mac. That leap is small risk because as it turns out, a Mac is the best Windows machine – yet another irony. What is this World coming to.

It used to be that employees in the lower rungs of the food chain would try to bring Macs into various businesses – big and small. They would inevitably get shot down by IT staff or their bosses. We know this because Daylite was often an accomplice in this kind of maneuver. Now the tables are turned, it is the high level execs that are experiencing that Apple ease of use and those execs are demanding Macs (and thankfully business software).

The other bit of irony is that Apple is worth more than IBM, DELL and other enterprise focused companies. Mark Hall of Computerworld suggests that the enterprise is an afterthought at Apple – indeed that is the way it supposed to be. You can’t innovate when you cater to dinosaurs.

Until next time…

13 Responses to “How Apple is getting into the Enterprise”

  1. Brock Freeman says:

    Very insightful.

    Both in my experience as an IT Director before and in my experience now as a non-IT employee dealing with the Microsoft zombies in my previous two companies’ IT departments I came to the realization that most IT employees are simply not there because they love their job or love computers; they are there because it’s a job (“hey, go into programming or IT and your guaranteed a job!”

  2. AJ says:

    True. I didn’t really consider that, but now that execs are demanding Macs – that is now forcing the change at that level as well.

  3. Mark says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head here. I came to this realization several years ago. In fact, that is how MS got entrenched in IT in the first place, though it is long forgotten now. People dragging PCs in the back door over the wishes of the IT droids. BTW, I am an IT droid so I should know.

  4. Tom B says:

    The dirty little secret of IT is that Enterprise computing largely consists of MS-Office– little else. I don’t like MS Office. There are free things that are comparable (OpenOffice) and commercial offerings that are significantly superior (iWork). But the irony is, when I was actually using MS Office a lot, I liked the Mac version better.

    Question to the author: I am not a developer, but since you have NeXTSTEP experience– do you like XCode? Did Apple keep it enough ahead of MSFT’s dev tools?

  5. AJ says:

    I do like Xcode – but I don’t know enough of the MSFT tools anymore to make a comment.

    One of the things that keeps us competitive is not Xcode itself, but Objective-C and the Cocoa frameworks.

  6. Blad_Rnr says:

    You are very correct.

    I manage an all-Mac shop of about 50 Macs. We are all running Tiger. I alone have Leopard for testing purposes. I have seven new Macs shipping in January. Guess what? I have to start getting ready for Leopard whether I like it or not. Listen, I am a 20 year Mac veteran, and a ten year Mac IT veteran. I love my Macs and I love my job. But this being forced to move to a new OS would not have to happen in the Windows world. Fortunately, Adobe CS3 runs great in Leopard, as well as MS Office 2004 for Mac. If not, I would be looking on Ebay for “gently used” Macs as replacements that ran Tiger. Now some have said the new Macs will run Tiger, but that won’t last for long.

    The innovation coming out of Cupertino for us Macs shops is and always has been, “Here it is. Love it or leave it.” That’s not a bad thing, IMHO. I embrace it. And the changes in Leopard (Time Machine) will be brilliant once we start deploying to more users. It’s just that the Mac future is/was being dictated much more aggressively than in Redmond. And if and when Apple gets really big in the Enterprise, it may have to slow down.

  7. Mark says:

  8. Jim says:

    The other dirty little secret is MS Outlook, which is not really ready for primetime on the Mac (hence why it is called Entourage).

    Now, if you are running Lotus Notes, there is not that much of a problem.

  9. el pedro says:

    I’m the IT Manager for a branding/ad agency of about 40 people and we’re 97% OS X 10.4 (one Windows user). Easily the most problematic software I deal with is made by Microsoft; fine, its a Mac port so its understandable that it won’t work especially well, etc etc. But I’ve dealt with Office on XP for long enough to know that M$ simply doesn’t provide the level of quality and polish on its software products that Apple does.

    Office on the Mac is ‘good enough’ for most people – turn off those Fast Save options or watch PPT eat your homework – but after seeing Apple’s idea of software and hardware design more and more people are agreeing that good enough, isn’t anymore.

  10. Jamie Pruden says:

    Wow… what Brock said. 😉

    I work in education and am in a similar situation with generally slow adoption of new stuff. That situation is changing… we’re getting ready to move to tablet computing and Apple would be our vendor of choice… if they had a tablet computer. We really want to go with one HW vendor and the combination of a tablet and a MacBook would allow us to run Windows for those that prefer it and Mac OS X for those that want to really get their work done.

  11. Anthony Hess says:

    I am all for Apple’s fast paced innovation, but removing the ability to boot the “old” OS just a few months after the new one is out is just one of the things that makes it hard to recommend them across the enterprise.

    I don’t think Apple is going to have great luck getting into big companies (SMB is probably different) until they actually care about that market – whether or not execs like iPhones or have Macs at home.

    … and MS is only a very small part of “Enterprise IT”. Ever heard of Oracle? SAP? A million other software packages?

    I’d say one of out 5 of our IT “leadership” are Mac users at home at this point – yet none of us are pushing to move the Mac into the enterprise because of Apple’s complete lack of interest in the market.

  12. Dana says:

    I agree… Apple is the best. I am a new convert from Vista and life-long Windows use. I’ve started the conversion a year ago with a MacBook I am so thrilled with new desktop, my laptop, and my new iPhone. I am eager to get Daylight into the Leopard system, and then everything will be COMPLETE (after using ACT for many years with my PCs). Bravo to Apple and everyone who has believed and known all along that they are just the best And fyi–I’m not a computer expert of any sort, but Apple products make me feel like one.

  13. Squeak says:

    I think Apple is in enterprise BECAUSE of the innovative products,
    and that Enterprise as it is- doesn’t think differently enough
    for Apple to really develop for it.
    Apple Server hardware and software has been a nice product,
    and a niche product: Film/Audio/Design/Lab – though it can
    do all of what other Enterprise PC and Linux installs do and is just
    as competent for large scale operations- i don’t see Vendors
    offering it as a solution to any big clients other than schools and
    research. But when that large Sun Boxed corp decides it needs to
    podcast its share holder meetings or put up some self promotion etc they might consider getting Apple Server since
    it will do that beautifully, and then after that’s been realized
    perhaps the next server they need to replace will be with Apple
    products (Xsan/Raid/FCProServer or Apple Servers). So the strategy is defined as “trickle in” rather than “you need to replace everything now!”. Of course I’ve seen end-of -lease
    server contracts replace 20 Mixed servers with 4 (yes 4!) Apple
    servers and end up with more throughput disk space and speed.
    Apple Server (10.5 is a little green but will stabilize soon) is
    a great product.

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