May 7

Ben Lorica

Ben Lorica

Macs in the Enterprise

In every O’Reilly conference and event I've been to, the number of Mac laptops is disproportionately high: I would say at least around a quarter (if not more) in most of our conferences. The most common answer I hear is that the Mac combines an elegant UI, a suite of useful software, and a Unix command line. O'Reilly does tilt towards the “alpha geek” crowd, but one wonders if mainstream companies are beginning to allow Apple products (including iPhones) in their networks.

Business Week’s most recent cover story is on the growing interest in Apple computers among corporate users. I was expecting the article to include some estimates for the corporate market, or at least the results of a recent survey. It was after all the cover story of the U.S. edition.

I do recognize that estimating Apple’s share of the corporate market is difficult. Apple itself does not provide corporate sales estimates and according to the article, it doesn't even have much of a sales force dedicated to the space. What Apple provides are sales for Desktops and Portable PC’s:
Starting Q3-2006, the share of portables jumped to 60% and has remained slightly above that number. Apple began moving to Intel processors in Q1-2006 and by August 2006 the entire line of Apple PC's had switched over. The graph for revenues (Desktops vs. Portables) is essentially the same. In Q2-2008, portables grew 61%, compared to the prior year, and now account for close to 2 in 3 units sold.

As the author points out, Apple’s secrecy and large margins may hamper it in the corporate market, where buyers prefer transparency and bargains. Overseas, particularly in the developing world, Macs are too expensive for most. With the introduction of expensive models (e.g. MacBook Air) the article estimates that the average price for a Mac is now about $1,526: too pricey even for large American companies, unless of course Apple is willing to forgo their fat margins and negotiate. Why would Apple want that when consumers seem willing to pay for their products? With more and more tasks moving to the cloud, expensive Macs will be even harder to justify. So while more companies might be willing to allow Macs, I would be surprised if Apple makes inroads in the corporate space.

My pet peeve: MS-Excel 2008 for the Mac is quite unstable, and I think the 2004 version is superior. In the corporate market a stable and easy-to-use spreadsheet is a must.

If you work for a large company they probably tightly limit what machines you can use. Luckily for me, O’Reilly allows the use of any (Mac, Windows, Linux, BSD, …) computer.

tags: apple  | comments: 12   | Sphere It

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Comments: 12

  Parand [05.07.08 01:34 PM]

I did a quick informal survey of laptops during keynotes at the last 2 O'Reilly conferences I attended and found just under half the visible laptops were macs. Disproportionate indeed.

  Moctod [05.07.08 02:52 PM]

MS-Excel 2008 for the Mac — is a Microsoft product.

Apple has no control of MS's software development.

Apple has no control of MS's motives or approach, WRT — their customers.

I fail to see how you can conflate MS's 'unstable, hard-to-use spreadsheet', with whether or not the Mac is CAPABLE of running a stable and easy-to-use spreadsheet.

But, people keeping feeding the troll — which kills all who try to even offer a different approach. Why?

Because people are convinced that their banal ramblings will be missed, if they don't use the troll's formats.

People are caged by their own notion of freedom.

  Don MacAskill [05.07.08 03:16 PM]

I believe the biggest limiting factor in corporate Mac adoption is the lack of a Mac. Here's why:

- The Mac Pro is overkill - it uses a two-socket motherboard and ECC RAM, neither of which are needed on an average desktop.

- The iMac is a bad investment for a business - when you need to upgrade it, you're throwing out the valuable LCD too. Baby with the bathwater.

- The Mac mini is too underpowered in the graphics and storage arenas - many businesses want to drive two monitors and have two or more HDDs to provide for data resilicency.

I know from my business, and other businesses I've talked to about this issue, we really want a Mac Pro form-factor with a single CPU socket and regular RAM. That'd save $500-1000 and put Macs on every desk we have.

  hmurchison [05.07.08 05:12 PM]

I think the perfect Enterprise Mac Desktop is this.

Take the current Mac mini form factor. Replace the aging internals with a Montevina based Intel chipset. This Biz mini would literally lock onto the back of new Apple Business Class LCD for a zero footprint configuration. The Biz mini would use DisplayPort outputs (supported in Montevina) what this does is allows a single cable connection to run a 30" HiRez LCD or run two monitors with one cable.

Apple then augments the single LCD with a stand that hold dual LCD.

I know what you're saying "why doesn't Apple just sell the iMac to businesses?" Because the lifecycle of a LCD monitor in most business is longer than the desktop. The Biz mini could be replaced at anytime or the LCD replaced at any time. Now you have one system that has parts that can be refrshed at on different cycles.

  AdamC [05.07.08 08:17 PM]

Don, the Mac mini is not underpowered, have you use one before? try to be more objective, I am using one and it is fantastic. BTW I am in the graphic design and photography business.

  Partners in Grime [05.07.08 08:59 PM]

It'd be great to get more Macs in enterprise ... then maybe our dinosaur school district would consider them.

  Distortion Shield [05.07.08 09:39 PM]

This article is not totally favorable to Apple -- watch out for rabid thin-skinned Apple fanboys!

Funny how fanboys, such as Moctod, sees the same reality completely differently depending on whether it's about the Mac or about the PC. They give the "Apple has no control of MS's software development" line to excuse the reported instability while in the same breath make fun of Windows' own stability, disregarding the fact that Windows too has to support and accomodate 3rd-party software (and as a matter of fact, infinitely more 3rd-party software than the Mac OS will ever have to support).

  Rural Hospital [05.07.08 10:02 PM]

Hey Ben, interesting article.
I heard a comment a few months ago from Dave Wier (sp?) that Apple is actually trying to move away
from the computer business and just concentrate
on media. Maybe they will do what IBM did and we will get an "ApNovo" ?

I my environment the Apple would never fly, we have
very basic needs and want simple, reliable rock-bottom price; used pc running Ubuntu.
But curious about your comment that more and more
apps are moving into the cloud. I recall Linux
journal featured a cover article on the gOS machine.
Do you have any statistics on migration to the cloud? That would be interesting to know.

  Moctod [05.07.08 10:20 PM]

Thanks for 'refuting' my statements with name-calling. I'm not surprised.

FWIW, MS's OSes have NOTHING to do with MS's Mac software. The MBU are in different bldg.

And because MS CHOOSE to 'support and accomodate 3rd-party software' — INCLUDING developing Mac software — why is it Apple's fault that they have a difficult time doing so?

Your 'argument' is a ridiculous non-sequitor.

Thin-skinned, indeed. LOL

  Sven Rabe [05.09.08 04:45 AM]

I only use my Windows PC. There isnt enough Software for Mac. :-(

  Istvan Belanszky [05.09.08 01:13 PM]

Sven, ignorance is no excuse.
Admitting lack of time or opportunity for exploring the range of available Software would be at least some kind of an excuse, were you expressing your claim that way.
As it is, it just doesn't hold.

As a multiplatform user (I am not a PC guy), I found the average quality of applications significantly higher on OS X compared to other mainstream or alternative platforms.
Rather than a chaotic mass with some gems here-and-there, it has a limited (compared to windows Sw quantity) but very strong selection of fair-to-excellent quality full price, shareware and free apps, with only a few handful of stinkers to be found.
It takes time to explore it, but it goes with far less swearing and brings many moments of joy.

  Babble On [05.27.08 08:12 AM]

The company I work for is slowly moving from Windows-based PCs to Macs - I've just got my MacBook and have so far not looked back at all!

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