Apple’s focus over the last year or so has been largely on the iPhone, leaving Mac developers who work in the enterprise market to pretty much fend for themselves. And that seems to be just fine for companies in a newly launched Mac enterprise group and even other Mac developers.
Earlier this week Atempo, Centrify, Group Logic, LANrev, and Parallels joined forces to form the Enterprise Desktop Alliance (EDA), a group of software developers dedicated to helping adopt the Mac—especially in larger companies with existing Windows-managed IT environments. Other Mac developers who cater to business customers think it’s a good idea as well, and that it will help keep Apple focused on the end user.
“I don’t think Apple should be specifically target the enterprise,” said Alykhan Jetha, president and CEO of Marketcircle (makers of billing and productivity management software). “It’s not that I don’t want those customers, because I do, but the enterprise market has fundamentally different requirements than you and I.”
For example, those in the enterprise market may not be as willing to switch to a new operating system as quickly as individual consumers for fear of incompatibilities. Retraining employees on a new operating system can also be costly for large companies.
“This would slow us all down,” said Jetha. “You won’t see the type of innovation Apple shows from Microsoft because they have to cater to enterprise. If Apple caters to the enterprise like Microsoft, progress is going to slow.”
That point is not lost on Tim Deal, senior analyst at market research form Pike & Fischer. “Apple has not tried to be everything to everyone and that has certainly been a key factor in its strong position of innovation,” said Deal.
While Deal doesn’t feel Apple does enough to promote its strengths in the enterprise market, he does think that Apple’s focus on certain areas of the market over the years has been a winning strategy.
“Focusing on and having good reputation for those niche markets has really worked for them [Apple],” said Deal. “Those markets typically don’t look anywhere else for their products.”
Dennis Bilowus, president of FastTrack Scheduler-maker AEC Software, thinks that Apple should do more to promote itself in the enterprise, but recognizes that the company has been doing a much better job in the past year.
Bilowus points out that one of Apple’s strongest niche markets, higher education, is also one of its biggest enterprise customers.
Of course, Apple’s iPhone 3G, being released on July 11, will include many enterprise-targeted features as well. This will be another catalyst in getting Macs into the large companies as executives purchase iPhone and expect their IT departments to support them.
Overall, Mac developers seem pleased with Apple’s position on the enterprise market. While a little more promotion might be nice, focusing on growing the business seems to be in everyone’s best interest.
“When it comes to Apple, they have a long history of customers evangelizing for it,” said Deal. “That puts the company in a unique position in the market. People will vehemently argue for the benefits of its products. That represents the unique nature of Apple.”