Apple makes some excellent products, specifically the Macintosh hardware/software and the iPod. But not everything that Apple makes is great, and not everything that Apple does is wise.
Specifically, Apple has laid two noteworthy product eggs recently: the Apple TV and the iPod Hi-Fi. In fact, a quick search for the Apple iPod Hi-Fi (pictured) at the online Apple Store was unsuccessful. Perhaps it’s been quietly discontinued, and so we’ll say not more about it. As far as Apple TV, I’ll refer you to “The iFlop,” a well-written article by Forbes’ Scott Woolley.
However, that’s peanuts compared to the big mistake. As Apple reinvents itself more as a consumer-electronics company every day, it’s missing a tremendous opportunity to sell computers to enterprises, and take market share away from Microsoft.
I hang out with software developers, IT professionals, business owners and managers. Because of what I do for a living, even in non-business conversations we start talking about computers.
Many people I meet express frustration with their desktop and notebook PCs – especially with Windows Vista. If they see me with my MacBook Pro, a very significant percentage of them express envy, and either admit sadness that they’re not allowed to switch to a Mac, or ask me how viable such a move would be.
The number of computer professionals and “civilians” who talk about a virus problems, crashes and so-on, and then say, “But you wouldn’t know about that, since you use a Mac,” grows all the time.
You would think that, given the massive industry pushback against Microsoft, specifically around Windows Vista, that Apple would be out there touting the Mac.
• You’d see them talk about how well the Mac works in a heterogeneous business – especially with the advent of Web 2.0-based browser apps, the classic issue of application availability is much less of an impediment to adoption.
• You’d see them trying to get small business VARs and service providers certified on on the Mac. Trying to find consultants who can help with Mac business issues is incredibly difficult.
• You’d see them talk about the Xserve sometime, maybe.
• You’d see them talk about how well their Mail application works with Exchange, or the Microsoft Office interoperability features of the iWork suite.
• You’d see them tout total-cost-of-ownership studies from Gartner or Forrester.
• You’d see Apple’s PR department chatting up business-technology reporters, not just consumer tech and entertainment writers.
• You’d see big ad campaigns in business publications promoting the Mac as the business platform of the future. It’d cost a fraction of what Apple spends on TV advertising for iPod and iPhone.
• Closer to my own area, you’d see the folks from Apple talking about their development tools to us at SD Times, and to others in the development press.
Yes, Apple does have a business message. But they don’t say it very often, or very loudly. What a missed opportunity. Even there, they focus exclusively on small business. What about the enterprise market? Lawyers carrying MacBooks are great. How about Fortune 1000 desktops?
It astonishes me. We hear from Microsoft and the PC makers about their enterprise platforms all the time. If I see something from Apple, it’s almost certainly about the iPod, or iTunes, or iPhone. (I did receive a press release from Apple recently about the Mac — about how there are some new EA games now available.) When the latest iMacs were released, there wasn’t a single word about they’d fit into an enterprise computing environment, or why IT professionals should consider them instead of Windows Vista boxes.
Certainly there’s progress. Apple cites a study from AMI:
According to the latest study from Access Markets International (AMI) Partners, Inc., Apple’s year-over-year market share jumped over 100% for desktop PCs and notebooks. In the medium business segment (100-999 employees), Apple’s desktop PC market share soared from 13% to 27%, while notebook PC shares grew from 8% to 18% in the medium business segment (100-999 employees). Similarly, in the small business (1 to 99 employees) market, Apple grew its desktop PC market share from 7% to 12%, and expanded its share of the notebook PC market from 5% to 8%.
Imagine what results they might have if they actually pushed the business message, and really capitalized on all that Microsoft pushback.
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick