Enterprising Apple

by James R. Stoup Jul 14, 2008

The plethora of features in the iPhone make it a perfect fit for your average consumer, small wonder then that it also fits in well with the business crowd. In fact, so far the iPhone is doing a great job of sneaking its way in to a variety of business settings. No doubt this is a trend that will only increase as time goes on. And while I applaud this move on Apple's part to further its business, I can't help but find it a bit dishonest. Putting in all of those great business-related features like Exchange support is misleading in my opinion. In fact, buying an iPhone for your business needs and expecting that this might lead to further adoption of Apple products is a naive hope at best. It almost feels like getting to first base with a beautiful woman only to find out that you will never get any farther. Ever.

Because lets face it, big business (or even better, the Government and/or the Military) will never buy the kind of computers that Apple makes. Likewise Apple will never make the kinds of computers that these entities could buy, so why even bother adding support for this kind of thing into the iPhone at all? It comes back to my point of it being dishonest.

Apple should either stick with making consumer devices or go ahead, branch out, take the plunge and start making a real effort to support the needs of big businesses and the Government.

Some of you might argue that <insert Apple product here> is perfect for enterprise solutions! And that if only Enterprise customers would <insert unreasonable expectation here> then everything would be fine. I'm sorry to bring my friend Mr. Reality to your crazy party, but that just isn't going to happen. It won't happen for the simple reason that one of Apple's biggest selling points is its style, and that is the one thing that these customers have the least interest in. If Apple really wanted to target this market then they would be selling stripped down, generic looking, easy to access (and no, neither the iMac nor Mac Mini is easy to access) and above all cheap computers. That one sentance accuately describes a company that is the antithesis of Apple.

So allow me to return to my original point, why is Apple flirting with a market they have no interest in selling to? To prove they can? No one ever doubted that. So why? Maybe they will change their position in time, but I can't really imagine them doing that until Steve Jobs no longer draws breath into his lungs.

And even then, if I was the guy at Apple who made the decision to go Enterprise, I would be just a little worried that zombie Steve Jobs would come after me just for spite.

What do you think, why is Apple now flirting with the Enterprise?


  • I don’t want to argue with you, I want to make some money out of your amusing short-sightedness. If you really believe what you’re writing here, then bet me $100 that within 12 months, iPhones are in official, sanctioned use in less than 20% of the Fortune 100.
    I invite others to offer similar wagers.
    Your response, or lack thereof, will clarify how sure you are of your opinion.

    BrianMcTavish had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 5
  • BrianMcTavish,

    I don’t think you really read what I wrote. Or if you did read it, maybe you didn’t understand it. I’m not arguing about the iPhone’s success (or lack there of) in an Enterprise environment.

    My point was that I think it is unfair of Apple to create a phone that is perfect for Enterprise but not a computer that is likewise suited for it.

    But thanks for the offer to back up your comments with a friendly wager. How about we bet on whether next time you actually read my article before you comment on it?

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 122
  • Let’s try looking at this from a different direction. 

    What’s not to like for a consumer or family to have easy to use enterprise style features (web sync, push email, etc) for the “consumer computing experience”?  I’ve been looking forward to MobileMe since announced, and now have my 4 Macs, iPhone, and iPod Touch sync’d together and working quite nicely.  My phone is used more outside the home;  the iPod touch, for example, on wireless, while wandering around the home, working in the garage or home office, or more “corporate desk” which has only a company laptop (but with quick notification now of any new emails on my .MAC account.  I think in spite of the early teething pains this will be a success.  And judging by companies like Axel Springer who are converting to all Mac, I’m sure this kind of functionality is welcome. 

    Do I expect a firm like where I work to care?  (using WIN2K and ancient versions of office apps), not hardly, though they have already looked into the iPhone, and with the revised 2.0 firmware capabilities may start supporting it, as it addresses the past issues and concerns.  It’s a German company, and Apple does have an unusual status over there, unlike, say, Asia.

    Those who care just take things into their own hands, and use the office laptop or PC to deal with email and necessary intranet client software. 

    Funny, with this Snow Leapard update, I bet I could setup a Mac on our network without problems and run the most of the internal applications, too, as they’re Java based.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    jonmarsh had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 3
  • I disagree with the article on three grounds.

    1) Some “Enterprise” features are popular and useful in a domestic context.

    2) Whilst Macs are a long way from being the tool of choice for big business, they have long supported small business, and their are a number of small businesses out there loyally using Macs, who would be abandoned if Apple were to drop support for business.

    3) In order to be taken seriously Macs need to be seen to be functional in a business environment, many domestic customers would not buy a computer unless it had some of this functionality, even if they didn’t really need it.

    R.A.M. had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 1
  • So AppleMatters is now focusing on protecting Microsofts’ Enterprise Business. This article is a good sign for Apple.

    zato3 had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 26
  • zato3,

    It was all down hill once I started using Vista.

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 122
  • Big business, big government, and big enterprise, will never buy iPhones, nor Macs. They perceive that they are too expensive and not compatible with Microsoft’s products. After all no IT manager ever was fired for buying IBM compatible/Microsoft.

    But, small business is fertile ground for Apple. These smaller businesses are run by entrepreneurs who would be attracted to the iPhone, but who are already entrenched in the PC/Microsoft world. Apple’s betting that once the entrepreneurs get a taste of using Apple’s products through the iPhone, they might have their IT manager begin to replace their old computers with Macs over time. I don’t think that Apple believes that this will happen tomorrow or the next day, but maybe in a few weeks or years.

    flyboy had this to say on Jul 14, 2008 Posts: 30
  • If you were making this argument a few years ago I would be more inclined to agree with you. Google IBM and Macs, then google Macs, iphones and the army. I don’t think it’s teasing , it’s testing. I also don’t believe that Apple is going after the enterprise market, it is the other way around. Apple has been riding the halo effect of the ipods into more homes, why wouldn’t that continue into the workplace? It only makes since, to me, people that converted and liked it would want to use them at work as well. If there is, and I believe there is, enough demand for this product at the enterprise level, doesn’t the iphone makes even more sense? Maybe. “What if” snow leopard (server) brings support for those enterprise apps?

    Danimal had this to say on Jul 15, 2008 Posts: 5
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