Apple is polishing its business-to-business (b-to-b) image these days with new products, such as the Titanium PowerBook G4 and Mac OS X, that will make the company’s products more appealing to enterprise customers, according to
a BtoBOnline report.
“With the upcoming release of the new Mac OS X, greater software support from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp., and a brand new multimillion-dollar ad campaign to tout its sleek titanium-clad PowerBook G4, Apple is making bold moves to target big business buyers on an enterprise level,” said BtoBOnline, a magazine for Internet and corporate strategists. “The Macintosh has long been ignored as a powerful desktop option for enterprise businesses, mostly because its operating system didn’t offer enough interoperability with third-party software such as Microsoft Outlook and scores of other key business applications.”
In the b-to-b space, the Macintosh early on captured, and has successfully retained, prominence in a few niches, namely desktop publishing and education, the report said. However, with Microsoft’s steady improvements in its Windows products’ user-friendliness, as well as its greater compatibility with graphics and publishing suites, Apple’s market share in these niches has been eroding, BtoBOnline added.
“Apple wants to ensure that they don’t get forced out of the enterprise space more than they already are,” Steve Kleynhans, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based research and consulting company Meta Group, told BtoBOnline. “There are an awful lot of corporations in America and worldwide that are asking themselves, ‘Do we still need to get these Macintoshes?’ Apple needs to ensure that when it gets asked that question the Macintosh still has a place, even within organizations that use mostly PCs.”
Toward that goal, Apple is promising that Mac OS X will deliver significant performance enhancements for corporate desktop users. And third-party vendors are beefing up the Mac versions of their applications such as Microsoft Outlook 2001 for the Mac the Internet-enabled Oracle E-Business Suite. Apple’s high-profile campaign to introduce its Titanium PowerBook G4 is another sign that the company is looking to grab a bigger piece of the b-to-b market, said BtoBOnline.
But the report said that the biggest challenge for Apple is figuring a way to gain market share in a world “dominated” by Windows, an operating system “promulgated” by such “corporate powerhouses” as Compaq, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard. Despite its recent improvements, Apple may still find itself cornered into its market strongholds, such as education, graphic design, desktop publishing and small business, BtoBOnline opined.
“Macintosh has a significant business presence, but it’s concentrated on very niche areas such as design,” PC Data analyst Stephen Baker, said in the report. “I don’t see them competing against Dell or Compaq for the enterprise space. Selling 100,000 personal computers to Ford isn’t their thing.”
Kleynhans told BtoBOnline that companies aren’t looking for “flashy packaging or sex appeal,” but for power, reliability and manageability. If businesses are going to adopt any kind of new operating platform, it will most likely be something that’s entirely different, such as a Web-based or wireless offering, he said.