Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Where Apple Won't Go

I remain befuddled by Apple Computer's outright thickheadedness with regard to their products and the American enterprise.

It's plain for all to see that Apple want absolutely no part of selling into corporations other than boutique art houses, or any other non-consumer segment other than schools. Yet despite this, Apple publishes a link to a story - on their own Apple "Start" page no less - highlighting the fact that 8 in 10 companies in America have Mac computers in production.


So, which is it - you don't care about corporations, or you're proud of the penetration your products have made into the enterprise space?

If it's the latter, how about actually ramping up an enterprise business unit? You know, with financing and on-site support programs and all the rest, like the other big kids?

Apple has done so poorly at speaking to the enterprise, that a group of five companies this week decided they'd do it for them. I love one of the quotes in the story.

"There's an information vacuum that we want to fill," T. Reid Lewis, president of Group Logic, told InformationWeek.

That's for damn sure.

Given that the newest iPhone is touted as having "enterprise" hooks, vis-a-vis integration of sorts with Exchange mail systems (not exactly in-use at many homes), one can hope that Apple's efforts to get into the enterprise will become a bit more purposeful than the X Server or X San. They need only the slightest breath to break the logjam holding Mac computers back from overrunning the enterprise space. That they pay us no attention is becoming less of an interesting quirk, and more of an insult.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Z:

You've promoted yourself all the way to zen master, perhaps it's time you added wu-wei to your toolbox.

ZEN Master said...

Photon - the term "ZEN Master" isn't one to be taken literally, as you might know. :-) The product, I've mastered...the Asian mental discipline, not so much.

That said, wu-wei is in fact an interesting concept - albeit one that is (perhaps predictably) in direct opposition to my very nature. "Do without doing"? That's gonna take some work...

Metro said...

This pretty much covers why Apple & Enterprise are not on the same page:


Neil Anderson said...

After watching the WWDC 2008 keynote I'd say Apple is interested in Enterprise.

Anonymous said...

There are prices to be paid for every action in life. Some prices Apple will not pay.

The Macintosh Computer is a Consumer oriented devise; everything has been carefully crafted to cater to the consumer market.

All the things that the IT people hate about Apple are exactly why it has experienced the recent phenomenal growth. IT hates surprises, "The one more thing" moment that consumers love. IT wants long roadmaps. IT wants boring boring, boring, predictable, predictable, predictable, and cheap, cheap, cheap. IT doesn't want to pay Apple a premium for panache and elegance, but the consumers will.

If Apple attempts to satisfy the IT/Enterprise market then it must destroy many of the programs and practices which garner it success with personal customers. That is why Apple is NOT Enterprise oriented. Nor is this "thickheaded."

Apple is going for the Small and Medium Business Market. The SMB market must deal with Enterprise so the SMB companies, which employ fewer than 200 employees, must have push mail and Entourage.

Apple knows that 58% of the employees in American business are in SMB companies and SMB companies give the end user much control over what computer will be purchased. There is no IT priesthood.

IT/Enterprise is NOT in Apple's sights, but it seems so because Apple intends to steal away the SMB market from Microsoft. The IT/Enterprise market is a losing proposition for Apple. It would have to completely revamp its marketing plan. Apple would have to stop being Apple to serve the IT/Enterprise market the way is wants to be served.

There are simply not enough reasons or money for Apple to do that. Apple is making plenty of money because it is not a "one size fits all" company.

ZEN Master said...

Thanks for the interesting thoughts.

I've certainly heard the position that Apple finds the Enterprise space to be "incompatible" with whatever it's designated as it's core values...I'm not sure I buy that.

Again, despite their outward appearance of indifference toward large companies, they do in fact seem to relish the fact that their systems are used in a vast majority of businesses; just on a smaller scale.

For some companies, broader adoption may be a matter of cost - that won't change anytime soon. But those companies probably still have Apple hardware, which means concerns over price alone are moot.

I for one am wholly unimpressed with the immaturity of Wintel-based desktop computing. It's frought with problems top-to-bottom, many of which are user impacting. Apple has done a better job than anyone to date of eliminating them, and businesses would (I think) be able to easily cost justify use of Apple hardware, without special pricing, if only they were manageable.

Part of the manageability story is tools, the other part is support. You're not handing out laptop and desktop computer hardware to people because you don't need them to be efficient; waiting 3 days or more for hardware replacements using their current depot system is not efficient. I don't see why adopting the same national on-site support model used by Dell, etc., means that Apple can't sell to consumers anymore. I've spoken to Apple about this, and they don't have such a program available - at any cost.

Would Apple be able to completely overtake the PC market with these systems in place? No. Would their adoption by enterprise customers increase by orders of magnitude nevertheless? I believe so. Apple's certainly entitled to set their terms, and companies can choose them or not. I for one would love to at least have Apple as a viable alternative to Wintel.

latoga said...

For Apple to be Apple (or more importantly for Steve Jobs to be Steve Jobs) they have to be able to have this "big thing" coming out that no one knows about that allows all the hype to spin up. Just think back to all the hype around the original iPhone.

For Apple to work with the Enterprise, Apple would need to do road map presentations and give a 12 - 18 month view of what is coming. Won't ever happen in the current Apple culture.

That being said, more Macs (especially laptops) are working their way into corporate America. I personally financed mine and then used it instead of my work laptop becuase IT would supply me with the level of machine I needed (I work in sales and I was using a 4 year old computer in front of customers, doesn't come across well for a software company). I used it for over a year with a clone of my original PC running in a VM. IT never knew.

And as I go into more and more fortune 500 corporate customers, I see more and more Macs appearing in my meetings. Right now, there is at least one Mac in every meeting I attend.

And now I hear rumblings from my new company of standardizing on Macs because of the standardized hardware. But you're right on the parts depot aspect; as a sales person, I can't wait more than one day without my computer working.

Apple has a great opportunity in front of them with corporate customers that they are not capitalizing on. which should make Apple shareholders furious...if they were so sucked into the Jobs Gravity Well.