Monday, October 5, 2009

Apple in the Enterprise

Apple's operating system has gained traction in the consumer market, moving its overall market share from the traditional level of 3-4% to the current level of 8%. If Apple keep it up will Mac OS soon be in the double digits and that is a completely different story than previously - it's still a small player but it's now playing in the big league.

Despite Apple's success in the consumer market is there not much, if any, traction for Mac OS in the enterprise market. explored the issue with CIOs and analysts in a recent article and concludes that the main resistance remains the "prohibitive costs involved in such a change". The cost factor is, of course, even more of an issue in the current economic downturn.

So far, nothing new but the article move on and explores two interesting issues:
  1. Mac OS is entering the enterprise through the backdoor by end users bringing (unsupported) Apple computers into the environment
  2. Apple's image as product for artists and designers.
On the first issue, introduction through the backdoor - it's certainly taking place and the author reference support for the seriousness by quoting Michael Silver of Gartner and
cheerfully concludes that it's a "phenomenon that's only set to snowball". It may be a bit too early to declare this as a snowballing process - it's hard to quantify to what degree this occurs and if there is a sustained impact because of this anarchistic behavior.

Apple may still have have an image, among some people, as a product for artists but the company has been successful to move the image away from the traditional notion and, instead, cast it as a product for independent and cool people. Continuing penetration of the consumer market will further help Apple in this endeavor and other successful Apple products such as the iPod and iPhone contributes to positioning Apple, as a brand, in the mainstream

Another hurdle for Apple to overcome is the conservatism among the IT grunts in the enterprise. The article doesn't explicitly comment on this, presumably because the main focus is on the CIO level, but the fact remains that it will be very difficult to change the status quo without buy-in from this group. After all, it could be disastrous for a CIO to introduce Mac OS in the organization and depend to IT workers loyal to Windows for success. It's a dangerous if a group has the ability to prove its point by its own failure. The only way for Apple to break into this market is by remaining persistent and improve support for enterprise features. If there would emerge more players (read Google) in the operating system marketplace would that too be to the benefit of Apple.