Apple Builds Enterprise Support

February 21st, 2018

During the days when Steve Jobs ran the show, Apple and the enterprise appeared to exist in different universes. Indeed, it was once common to claim that Macs were consumer computers, and shouldn’t be taken seriously for business use. The interface was too pretty. Besides, there was no software for the Mac, even though that wasn’t true. However, you had to go to a specialty source to buy the latest and greatest.

Despite that, music production was a popular use for Macs. Desktop publishing debuted on the platform and, in turn, nearly put me out of work until I adapted. I’d hardly regard either purpose as not business related. Along with a decent amount of business software, such as word processors and spreadsheets and stuff, it was hard to say Macs were meant just for playing games.

On the other hand, when Windows became usable, suddenly computers with graphical user interfaces were accepted for the enterprise, even though Apple got there first. But it was also true that Apple never seemed to go all in for businesses. During the dark days of the mid-1990s, some Mac apps were discontinued. or simply left the platform. It took a while for things to turn around.

As we all know, iPhone played a huge role in Apple’s resurgence.

As Apple continued to announce higher and higher sales each year for the iPhone and, later, the iPad before sales flattened, Tim Cook would frequently cite the high percentage of Fortune 500 companies testing or deploying them. That was hardly an act of ignoring the enterprise, and it was only the beginning.

After Apple and IBM made a deal to develop iOS business software, it didn’t just involve iPhones and iPads. Macs were offered instead of PCs to the company’s employees and to its customers. In short order, tens of thousands were purchased, and it was announced that total upkeep on the Mac was hundreds less than the Windows platform. What’s more, only 3.5% of its Mac users would call the company’s help desk for assistance on a problem, whereas 25% of PC users require help. It didn’t just mean that fewer Mac users had problems. It was often easier to just do it yourself when something bad occurred — well except for a hardware issue.

Code42, a company that provides CrashPlan online backup services, published the results of its own enterprise survey last year in which the Mac was chosen for three key reasons. 37% for happier end users, 14% for fewer help desk tickets, and 12% for better OS security.

Mac users have known much of that for years, that it’s easier and cheaper to maintain a Mac, but it took decades for businesses to get the memo. That the news was confirmed by the company that was once one of Apple’s fiercest competitors was surprising news indeed, even though it came years after IBM gave up building its own PCs and sold the product line to Lenovo.

Over the years, Apple has made more and more business conquests, such as Walmart, Delta Air Lines — you get the picture.

Although PC sales are on the decline these days, HP is number one in the market. Lenovo is usually a close second quarter to quarter.

So would it surprise anyone that HP is now offering competing products as part of its Devices as a Service (DaaS) business? It allows a company to acquire hardware and support on a subscription basis, rather than pay for it up front or get a business loan.

Even more interesting is that the service includes Macs, iPhones and iPads. In other words, HP has learned a lesson Microsoft discovered long ago, which is that there’s lots of money to be made by supporting Macs and iOS gear with its software and services. In short, money is money, and let’s face it, PC makes don’t make high profits from shipping commodity PC gear. So it probably doesn’t matter so much if a business acquires its Macs and iPhones from HP. It’s very possible HP earns high profits from such deals.

Companies that use these products are no doubt getting a better deal by having a single vendor provide the hardware they need, along with a single source for support.

An HP executive announced in a company press release that, “Our expanded support for mixed operating system environments across every phase of the device lifecycle, combined with our continued expansion into VR and data analytics, is providing smart, simplified solutions for the modern workforce and unlocking new growth opportunities for our customers, our channel partners, and our business.”

Does that mean HP will turn up at the next WWDC?

Steve Jobs once said the platform — Mac versus Windows — wars ended along ago. Microsoft won, although Apple’s share of the market has grown in recent years as total PC sales have flatlined. Apple doesn’t spend lots of time dinging Windows at media events anymore. It doesn’t have to.

Will Dell begin to offer Macs and iPhones next?

Sure, Microsoft has its own lineup of PCs these days, but Surface sales aren’t great shakes. So maybe the designs are meant to point PC makers in new directions. Or Microsoft can’t do any better. It’s mobile platform tanked. Indeed, even the New York Police Department dropped Windows Phones and replaced them with iPhones.

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