With the new iMac and Mac OS X, Apple has a chance to make footholds into the corporate market once again.
Or not. Depends on which columnist you read.
Fortune , columnist Stewart Alsop (who has a new iMac on order) thinks Apple can make progress in an area dominated by Wintel systems. He lists four reasons why: Macs are more fun. “Despite the arrival of Windows XP, I don’t have fun using Windows-based computers,” Alsop writes. “You can tell that the people who build and design Windows and the computers it runs on are very serious people, dedicated to improving price performance and productivity. Even though I use a Windows-based notebook computer for all of my productive and 90 percent of my nonproductive activities, I try to find excuses to use my Macintosh.” Apple finally has a “real, applications-based software strategy” with programs such as iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto, and iTunes that represent a coherent set of applications for managing digital media that doesn’t exist anywhere else. “The integration among the applications is at least as good as in Microsoft Office — a huge element in the success of Windows,” Alsop opines. There’s still a business in Mac software. Big firms such as Microsoft, Adobe and Macromedia are making new and innovative products, and solutions such as Dave lets a Mac act like a Windows computer on a network, Alsop said. The “explosion” of the Internet over the past five years has created a set of standards for networking so widespread that it is becoming less and less important what flavor of computer you use. That’s why so many computers, mostly servers, run Linux in major companies. And it’s how people could get away with buying Macintoshes and using them in corporate environments.
However, Charles Haddad in his latest
Byte of the Apple column for Business Week Online says that Macs and businesses just don’t mix. He thinks that Mac OS X, with its UNIX roots, is rallying Apple for a renewed assault on the corporate market. Then there’s the Mac version of Microsoft’s Outlook e-mail program, which offers appeal to business markets. But he doesn’t think these factors will help Apple gain corporate marketshare.
“The Mac’s best features — stunning graphics, stylish design, and ease of use — are what corporate purchase managers value least,” Haddad says. “What they favor are cookie-cutter PCs at rock-bottom prices. Macs, I’m afraid, are never going to undersell these IBM clones. Nor do the Mac versions of Outlook, Word or Excel offer much that’s different from their PC equivalents. So why should corporate IT managers switch platforms, given their priorities?”
Mac OS X will help the company hold onto to its “few” corporate customers and may convince some companies and school systems to keep supporting both PCs and Macs, he thinks.
“But these markets aren’t worth a huge new investment. Apple’s money would be better spent expanding the lead it already has in schools, publishing, entertainment and the arts,” Haddad writes.