Don't Hold Your Breath for Macs in Business

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on October 31, 2007

With the release of OS X Leopard, the best has gotten even better and you’d think that enterprises that remain distinctly cool to Windows Vista might want to give Mac a second look. Forget about it.

The fact is, Apple doesn’t really want corporate business, and based on its recent earnings reports, doesn’t need it. Apple is very, very happy being the BMW of computer companies, and serving the enterprise market forces you to be Chevrolet or, at best, Toyota.

Furthermore, going after corporate business would force Apple to do at lot of things it doesn't want to do. Some are relatively minor, like improving the manageability of its computers. Some are bigger, like adding mid-range desktops with separate displays; corporations hate all-in-ones because monitors last longer than CPUs, the Power Mac is too expensive, and the mini too underpowered.

But the ultimate deal-breaker is that enterprises will not accept single-source hardware. In reality, they may buy all their hardware from a single source, such as Dell, but they want the assurance of knowing that a second source is available. The first thing Steve Jobs did when he returned to Apple a decade ago was to kill off hardware licensing and it will never happen again as long as he is running the company.

That means that Macs will continue to be tolerated in the corporate ghettos of research and creative shops, but they won't go mainstream. Small and medium business, though, could and should be a different story. Especially for companies without IT departments, the simplicity and reliability of Macs ought to be mighty attractive, especially now that the availability of Parallels and VMware
Fusion means they can have their Mac and run Windows too.

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Reader Comments

Terry Gregory

October 31, 2007 07:32 PM

Your words are mirrored of what Apple stated years ago, but you made the same assumption that Apple & IBM made: its all about quality hardware and ignore the software.

You say that corporations do not want to be locked into one manufacturer, which is a golden rule of purchasing. Then what do you call Microsoft? Doesn't every solution involve Microsoft and a generic box of "choice"?

Microsoft turned the hardware industry into a commodity and now corporations are looking for integrated solutions. One supplier. One solution.

Would you buy a car piece by piece? Engine by BMW, body by Fisher, interior by Coach?

Or would you rather negotiate a one stop shop product that actually works because of the vertical integrated model?

Apple is a customer of Intel, Microsoft is not. The microprocessor is a selling point of the boxes, yet Microsoft has no direct relationship with them.

Apple does.


Steve Wildstrom

November 1, 2007 09:33 AM

@Terry Gregory--Enterprises accept single-source software all the time because the advantages of standardization outweigh the risk of dependence. Furthermore, sole-source hardware suppliers always raise the risk of supply disruptions, a problem that doesn't apply to software.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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