Apple's Zen Strategy for Business

Winning without attacking is working well, as Apple scores some SMB wins.
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Taking a step back from the iPhone, I wanted to look at the implications of two articles that have shown up recently in the Mac web. The first, from CNET, entitled "Mac desktops are 'smarter money,' says CIO," and the second, "Mac Attack! An enterprise PC shop switches to Apple," from Computerworld.

The first article is rather vague. While it has some choice quotes from a CIO for a mid-sized U.K. property management company, Capital & Regional, it's not so much a ringing endorsement of the Mac OS and Apple hardware as it is a sign that Microsoft's assumed front-runner status is no longer as universal as it was. The CIO, Richard Snooks points out some fairly obvious things. For browser-based applications, Windows offers no real advantage, i.e. ATMs could run Linux/Firefox with the same user experience and advantages they get with Windows. A hardened kiosk gains nothing from Windows that can only be found in Windows beyond a bigger software licensing budget.

Snooks also point out that if he's going to be forced to buy Vista, that Apple and Mac OS X is "smarter money and cheaper." His claim that it's cheaper is, I'm assuming, based on normal corporate 3-5 year desktop life-spans, and based on hardware and OS alone. If he already has Office on those desktops, then the cost of migrating to Microsoft Office 2004 on the Mac would offset some of those savings. However, if a significant portion of his user population would be happy with NeoOffice, then up-front Office migration costs are nil. The Microsoft rep quoted respond with the usual blandishments about advances in deployment and security in Vista.

What's interesting about this article is that the source for most of the quotes, Richard Snooks, is the CIO of what is essentially a finance/real estate kind of company. This is not a market that has ever shown a great deal of interest in anything that did not come from Microsoft. In fact, they've been one of the most loyal users of Microsoft tech as a market segment. For example, look at what U.S. real estate agents and buyers who want to use a Mac with the various MLS systems go through. I know quite a few who gave up and either went the virtual/emulator route. Or just got a PC with Windows, after realizing that the MLS systems were not going to ever handle anything that wasn't IE.

True, Snooks works in the U.K., not the U.S., and one company is hardly indicative of an immanent sea change. But the fact that someone in Snooks' position is seriously considering both Linux and Mac OS X is not good news for Microsoft.


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