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No company has been a greater catalyst of the consumerization of IT than Apple. And now its new iCloud services are poised to trigger the latest assault on the ornately pillared walls of the legacy IT systems and software world.
Apple’s iCloud online storage service has received plenty of press attention and generated an equal amount of debate. Most people have focused on its potential impact on consumer markets. I believe that it will have an even greater effect on businesses.
Although Apple has been viewed as predominantly a consumer brand for many years, it has been slowly but surely gaining share in the corporate world as well. Its growth in the business-to-business (B2B) market has been built on a series of astute moves.
First, it cultivated a new generation of corporate workers from the time they entered grade school with a series of peculiar looking yet easy to use Macs. Then they cornered the teen world with iPods – which quickly became popular among adults also. The iPods not only changed the way we acquired and listened to music, but how we consumed information via videos and podcasts. As a consequence, iTunes fundamentally changed the music and media industries forever.
The iPod evolved into the iTouch, which was just a teaser for the iPhone. It may be hard to remember, but many CIOs and IT departments tried to fight the use of iPhones among their corporate workers because of security and productivity concerns. Today, many employees are convinced that they are far more effective in their jobs because of the advent of the iPhone.
As a result, smartphones are no longer viewed as a novelty or toy, but as an essential business tool.
Apple’s share of the PC market has grown to nearly 10% while the overall PC business has experienced a decline in growth. Why? Because Apple’s latest innovation – the iPad — is now taking over the mobile computer market. Once again, the iPad was initially perceived as a simple consumer product. But, it has quickly spread across the corporate world as a sales, customer service, collaboration and communications tool.
Why is this quick rise of Apple’s technology innovation important?
Because with each new offering Apple has quickly changed buyer behavior and the competitive landscape. End-users within corporate environments are now demanding to use these devices to do their everyday jobs. In fact, I was attending a CIO event focused on the life sciences industry recently and one of the speakers readily admitted that he had recently become an Apple convert because of his rapid evolution from iPod to iPhone to iPad.
I’ve long believed that the popularity of Flicker among adult consumers helped to bring attention to the importance of backup and storage services among corporate workers. Salesforce.com’s founder and CEO, Marc Benioff, has constantly referred to the ease of use of Apple’s iPod and iTunes as the model of success for his company’s on-demand, Cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) customer relationship management (CRM) solution.
Anyone who watched Steve Jobs unveil iCloud should have noticed that he spent nearly as much time displaying how users can store documents as preserving music and movies via this new online service. This was no accident.
Apple has become tired of being viewed as a consumer brand that inspired the success of others in the corporate SaaS and Cloud industries. It now wants a share of the corporate market as well.
And, you can bet that its legions of devoted followers will be happy to connect their iPhones, iPads and iPods to their iCloud accounts…with or without corporate IT approval.
Jeff Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.