Why Apple Shouldn’t Ignore the Enterprise

by Hadley Stern Aug 20, 2009

This isn't going to be one of those Apple-will-die-if-it-doesn't-sell-computers-to-the-enterprise-pieces. Apple is doing just fine, thank you very much, by focussing on the consumer market. The (intelligent) consumer understands that using a Mac is easier, much more powerful and, in the long run, is a cheaper proposition than using Windows. With its hardware and software integration, Apple delivers something that no one else in the industry offers—powerful tools that are easy to use.

So why should Apple care at all about the workforce, aka, the enterprise? For one reason only work is where people spend a lot of time using computers! Duh.

The issue for Apple is that as Windows gets better and better, meaning as Windows 7 gets out there in the wild, workers are going to be less and less frustrated with Windows. XP right now is in the dark ages, Vista has been a failed attempt to crawl out of the cave, but Windows 7? Windows 7 ain't half bad. And this presents a big problem for Apple.

Not only is Windows 7 not half bad but tools that a majority of knowledge workers use these days are Powerpoint, Word, Excel, and Outlook for the PC (except for those wacky folks at Google). The Office suite on the Mac is a second-rate slow-follower to the PC end of things (ironic, because Office was released for the Mac first...) and on the PC it just keeps getting better and better. With Windows 7 there will be less, if any blue-screens of death. The UI, in an admitedly sort-of-tacky Microsoft kind of way is solid and the operating system is fast.

As the majority of workplaces inevitably upgrade to Windows 7 over the coming years this Apple may feel a big bite.

So what is the solution for Apple? Innovation. Snow Leopard should be the final release of OS X. Or, to put it another way, OS X should be the final release of an Apple WYSIWYG interface. Snow Leopard is fantastic. It is very fast, has all the nuances of a GUI interface thouroughly thought-out and implemented. It is mature.

In one big way Apple has begun this path towards looking beyond the desktop with the iPhone. It has launched the first commericial, scable touch-screen interface. Much like the Mac some of these ideas existed in Labs but none of them came to light before the iPhone. One can't help but wonder (or hope) that the evolution of Apple from a desktop-based operating system player to a mobile-operating system player is not part of some kind of larger plan. Does that plan involve large screen-based multi-touch devices? Is Apple going to smash the paradym of the desktop computer the way it did to the typewriter, typesetting machine, film editing studio and more?

One can only hope so. What are your thoughts on the evolution of OS X, Windows and computing?


  • I’ve been ready for the shift to “touch compuing” since I got my hands on an iPod Touch.  When/if an iPhone 4G is released on Verizon/LTE I will be first in line.  I will gladly surrender my (mostly neglected) MacBook for a large screen MacTouch.  And again, laugh at my Windows PC friends stuck using last decades technology.

    The future is here; it’s just no evenly distributed.

    Khürt Williams had this to say on Aug 20, 2009 Posts: 45
  • True enough, Hadley. The enterprise success of Windows 7 will have a significant impact on halting the bleeding as consumers tend to buy at home what they use at work because of familiarity and the perception of free tech support. (You know, why the techie is workie on your office PC, you just happen to ask about a problem with your home PC)

    MS has bled customers because those consumers were frustrated by their PCs at both home and work. But if W7 is as good as it appears, that MS will live another day.

    The one upside for Apple is enterprise will be slowish to move to W7, albeit, quicker than it did to Vista, so Apple still has time to make further inroads.

    Regards Apple and innovation, I think maybe they’ve been lucky. Apple is notorious for building products with limited functionality, yet some succeed. iPod and iPhone are good examples of that success. Apple TV (by comparison) is a failure.

    So it makes me wonder just how much a part luck has played in Apple’s recent successes. The iPod and the iPhone had redeeming features, revolutionary features, despite being feature neutered. The Apple TV doesn’t have any redeeming features, nothing that makes it a revolutionary must-have device.

    I think though Apple has learnt from its luck. It’s learned folks will buy neutered products if they have a killer feature. This is why you don’t yet see an Apple tablet device, Apple’s still looking for the killer feature.

    Maybe Apple should check out this concept: http://tommasogecchelin.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/macbook-touch/macbook-touch-beta-20/

    Chris Howard had this to say on Aug 20, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • You said ” OS X should be the final release of an Apple WYSIWYG interface”.

    That implies that you forsee a non WYSIWYG interface, or at least non Apple-WYSIWYG interface.  What you see isn’t what you get?

    Or are you saying Apple’s OS interface is finished, now that Windows is catching up?  We won’t need Mac style computers in the future?

    Howard Brazee had this to say on Aug 21, 2009 Posts: 54
  • The iPhone/iPod Touch interface is a step or two away from the desktop paradigm that made the Mac OS and Windows popular. The next interface could be through speech recognition, like Hal in the movie ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’, or a direct connection to our brain which would not require any media or physical connection to the computer.

    Unless the next interface is a giant leap in productivity for the user, then business will stick with Windows because they have too much invested to make the switch to OSX. We may love our Macs, but business doesn’t work on what people love, ease of use or style. They work on money. In business money talks and everything else walks.

    Flyboybob had this to say on Aug 23, 2009 Posts: 33
  • The enterprise is not about having the nicest most elegant GUI. The enterprise’s needs are different from a consumer’s point-of-view.


    1. Enterprise use of PC OS are utilitarian in nature - if one works well enough (a.k.a. Windows) then so be it keep using Windows, period. No more debate.
    - The enterprise did not upgrade to Vista for XP was still very useful and more importantly, stable enough for the common daily tasks such as word processing and number crunching. Never mind that XP is over 8 years old.
    - Win7 is a reworked Vista (I am working on RTM release right now) that offers that XP reliability that the enterprise is looking for. Win7 looks great but shouldn’t a new OS have to be beautiful anyway?

    2. The enterprise have legacy apps and internal codes that must work. Some of these are critical to the enterprise’s viability and survival, period.
    - That means going forward the next upgrage cycle is Win7 with the XP Mode as a security blanket for the older apps.
    - The only way the Mac can squeeze in to this next upgrade cycle is to offer Win7 bundled in a dual-boot configuration (as default) or a type 1 hypervisor (bare metal kind) not OS hosted like Parallels.

    3. This one is debatable but true. IT shops prefer a platform where there are more than one vendor or supplier for many reasons.
    - HP, Dell, Acer all offer Windows machines and are available directly from the vendors’ web stores or from retailers like CDW or even NewEgg.
    - Apple’s Macs are only available from Apple, period. (OK so they can be bought from CDW or Best Buy, but you know they are still from Apple).

    There are other reasons the Mac and Snow Leopard will have an uphill battle in the enterprise but those are the killer reasons.

    I own several Macs over the years and I loved them all. But I am also practical and knows full well what the enterprise needs (I own a small business too).

    Yeah, it would be great if all the PC machines disappear overnight replaced by shiny new Mac Pros and MacBooks and Minis. But that ain’t gonna happen unless Apple does the unthinkable and resolves all of those points above.

    Chris H: The dude’s got talent in design, indeed! Jon Ive must hire this guy. IMHO he isn’t mechanically inclined engineer tho. The weakest point in his unified OLED display is the hinge. There has not been enough data to really know how OLED screens take the daily bendings and stretchings that a normal hinge takes each and every day.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 23, 2009 Posts: 846
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