Analysts: Windows on Macs will not open corporate doors

Apple’s switch to Intel processors and the Mac’s newfound ability to run Windows natively may lead to increased adoption in the home and small business marketplace, but will probably not translate to an increased presence in large-scale corporate environments, say industry analysts.

Needham and Company analyst Charles Wolf recently predicted that Apple’s market share could triple in the home, yet he says that the same thing is not true of the corporate space.

“I’m relatively cautious about the corporate market, medium and large business in particular,” Wolf told Macworld . “The decision maker is usually not the user in those cases. My observations are that they are very Windows-centric and consequently the fact that the Mac can run Windows well at some point in the future probably won’t matter. In small business you might see some companies turn to the Mac as their primary computer, or they may be mixed environments, but there’s no way I could even guesstimate how much that would be. I think quite small, in point of fact.”

Gartner analyst Michael Silver also says that while individuals might be switching, it does not make sense for large companies heavily invested in Windows machines and applications to do so.

“We’re not seeing Macs replace Windows PCs as a standard choice,” said Silver. “I don’t really see Boot Camp as the resolution of why organizations don’t buy Macs. If you want to buy a Windows machine, especially if you are in a company buying hundreds or thousands of PCs, there are cheaper ways to do that than buying a Mac. There’s only one vendor, and you still have to install Boot Camp and buy a full version of Windows, which has list price of like $300.”

Another issue, say analysts, is productivity. Although Boot Camp will allow Mac users to boot up into either the Windows or the Macintosh OS and run Windows applications natively, in order to switch, they must shut down and restart their machines. This reduces productivity since a user must quit working in all open applications and wait while the machine shuts down and restarts.

“If [a corporation is] trying to get users to spend time on applications, having a dual boot machine doesn’t really resolve the issue,” said Silver. “Even if I’m a creative pro, having a dual boot machine so I can stop what I’m doing — if I’m editing a film or a line for a business project — if I have to stop that and reboot in Windows to do SAP, or whatever, on the Windows side, where’s my productivity going? I think a better solution is to look at virtualization product like Parallels. Parallels is also a good answer for [Apple] because it gets them out of the who is going to support it issue.”

The productivity issue might help explain some aspects of Apple’s new ads. In its new “ Get a Mac ” campaign, the “ Touche ” ad promotes Parallels, rather than Boot Camp, as an option for people who want to run Windows on their Macs. It further promotes Parallels on its “Get a Mac - Run Windows” promotional page. Wolf, who had not seen the page prior to speaking with Macworld, says that while he thinks there is much to be said for dual booting, he was glad to see the company pushing Parallels.

“I am so pleased to see [Apple promoting Parallels],” said Wolf. “I had a talk with Phil Schiller at the opening of the 5th Avenue Apple Store, and I asked him the question, ‘will Apple include a virtualization solution in [the next version of Mac OS X] Leopard.’ He said ‘absolutely not, the R&D would be prohibitive and we’re not going to do it. Our solution is dual boot.’ When I saw Parallels come out, I thought Apple would dis it, but this page suggests that Apple will actively support it.”

Wolf noted that other virtualization solutions are on the way, as well, from companies such as CodeWeaver, and that Apple should embrace them.

“I think the ability to run Windows on a Mac over time will get easier and easier and more seamless, and what I think is quite necessary, is that Apple is not going to preclude third-party solutions; they’re going to be promoting third party solutions above and beyond Boot Camp. And that’s to the good,” said Wolf. “It’s my assumption that the key driver for Windows users switching are going to be the Apple stores. There you can really promote this feature, and I think Apple should have a dedicated section of each store where this is actually going on. Where there are two Macs, three Macs, whatever, dedicated to running Windows.”

Meanwhile Apple seems to be pushing its core strengths, rather than trying to focus on expanding into the corporate sector. Visitors to Apple’s front page may have noticed a relatively new addition, a prominent link in the sub-navigation bar to a Mac at Work page.

The site promotes Apple seminars and training, and cites real-world examples of Macs in the workplace. However, the examples are almost all areas that have long been core strengths for Apple — education, and creative pros, as well as small business and science. There’s no pitch made for large, or even medium-sized businesses. Analysts say this is a wise move on the company’s part that plays to its strengths.

“I think Apple has been selective,” said Silver. “They’ve expanded these environments from a few years ago, when you wouldn’t have seen science. I think it makes a lot of sense to be opportunistic, to be looking where the good match is.”

Wolf is even more to the point. “I think it would be foolish for Apple to do a broad-based attack on the business market. I think it would fail; it would be wasted money.”

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