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RIP Steve.


Everyday I talk to companies that are starting down a path, away from the old Windows centric paradigm, to do something "different".  Sometimes that is a fringe purchase of a new Mac here or there (see the CEO with a Macbook Air); sometimes it is a commitment to use iWork or "Open Office" instead of of MSFT Office; sometimes this is wholesale "switching".  My favorite is the company that makes the decision to go all Macs, and then says "OK, now, what kind of software runs on these things?" 

For me, here, the Enterprise is business.  Companies large and small.  I am facinated by and interested in the use of Apple products in any kind of business.

How Apple products are are faring in the Enterprise is a great topic of discussion. I am watching companies providing solutions (I work for one), and observing how Apple talks to the Enterpise.


Apple in Business (thanks IBM)

The Apple + IBM news was initially exciting to me, as I continue to hope to see Apple taking more strides into the Enterperise.  Their lack of any kind of focus had always seemed to be the one missing piece of a generally flawless overall business strategy.  There were certainly mistakes made with an Apple "Business Strategy" in the 90's.  But those scars have got to be long healed over.  I have also come not to believe that their "strategy" was purely one of Entering-the-Enterprise-via-the-Consumer.  Apple execs certainly can like that result as it happens every day, but I don't think that's it. (I've slightly revised my thinking since the July 3, 2011 post below).

We've seen Apple over the years stop catering to the high end user.  Look at the treatment of those creative professional users first with the Final Cut Pro saga and then last year with Apeture.  Many a creative pro felt abandoned, feeling that they had helped keep Apple afloat in the lean 90's.  I do not believe this was Apple deciding to abondon a market, but rather Apple seeking out a broader audience.  Apple doesn't want to be narrowly focused, they don't seek to dominate vertical in a market.  At least, on their own.

Step in IBM.  IBM does want to own verticals in business.  IBM speaks business.  And IBM sees what we all see: Apple creeping into the Enteprise via the consumer.  IBM saw the business opportunity.  IBM knows how to go after a business opportunity - they've been doing that for over 100 years, changing the company dramatically in some cases.

This week Apple + IBM announced the first of the enteprise apps in the partnership to be Apple Watch enabled.  I love the sound of this.  I love the initiave.  It's happening.  There IS an Apple Business Strategy.  It's just coming to your enterprise via your friendly neighborhood IBM Salesrep! 


iPads Hot in Business Says Brian Blair (of Wedge Partners)

There are many who get great encouragement from any Apple movement in business.   I try to pay attention to any sign which could indicate a strategy.  Apple however, continues to prove that if they go after the end user, the end user will drag their Apple devices into work.  The Apple the "Enteprise Strategy" seems to work.  

However, when financial analysts like Brian Blair of Wedge Partners points to real financial results from Apple in the Enteprise, it's worth noting.  In a recent interview Brian notes that robust iPad sales is partly attributable to more iPads in use, in business.  Not surprisingly, iPads are taking the place of Netbooks and even Laptops.

I like that momentum.


PrimeSense Acquisition for the Enterprise? (we can hope)

"Apple has traditionally proved averse to articulating an enterprise-specific marketing and sales strategy, preferring to focus on end users"

I would love this not to be true.  It's been years, and I remain optimistic that Apple will, at some point turn and give some kind of Nod to the Enterprise.  It would be great if that above quote wasn't the case.  Here is a link to the Forbes article by JP Gownder.  Here Grownder points out that one of PrimeSense's strengths was business.  The Enterprise.  Could this be an the start of an Enterprise initiative?  

As an all-things-Apple junkie, I look forward to this PrimeSense technology coming in ANYTHING.  I eagerly await the unicor Apple Television.  I am dying for the Watch.

It will all end up helping Apple in business, as we drag our beloved Apple Technology with us to work.  It would be cool to see this PrimeSense business unit (to the extent that there really IS one), be something that germinates into a business group inside Apple.


Business vs. Ubiquity: Apple takes Ubiquity (thanks)

Apple is IN the Enterprise.  These days it's not just the spotty appearances in the art department of big companies, its all over.  What's more, the Apple technology is seeping into the enterprise at an accelerated pace.  We all see iPhones everywhere.  We continue to read reports of Apple's growing sales to business.  (Tim Cook points out in a recent Apple earnings call that 75%+ of the Fortune 1000 companies are using or testing iPads and 80%+ are testing iPhones).  Apple brags about it, but they don't seem to be doing a whole to make any changes to leverage the momentum and attack the enterprise.  Any reader of this blog knows I'll go on and on about that topic.  The fascinating thing to me, is that it doesn't seem to matter what Apple does for an "Enterprise Strategy".  Apple is winning anyway.

People are walking in to work with iPhones in their pocket and saying "no thanks" to the corporate Blackberry.  Office workers are pleading for the ability to use their Mac at home to work at home.  As an employer, are you REALLY going to say no to some one asking to work more at home?  The next slippery slope is yielding to those new incoming college hires who look slightly ill when told they are going to have to use Windows machine.  "No Macs Allowed here at work at THIS company"  Really?  Not sure how long you can keep that going.  People have iPads, they are using them anyway.  They WANT to use them for work, as long as they are on line.  This all means more yielding by MSFT's traditional strong hold: corporate IT gatekeepers.  It's happening everywhere, all around us, and Apple is not lifting a finger to "make" it happen.  In fact, they are seemingly taking big steps backwards, in terms of making any kind of official courting of business.

See my previous post “So Long Xserve”.

See this latest Final Cut X bru-ha-ha.  

What do we see in common?  Apple looking at the big business customer on one side, and the masses of ubiquity on the other side, and taking the side of the masses.  Why spend money, resources, and development cycles trying to make individual businesses happy with specific features, when they can continue to perfect their products for the end user?  Why paint in between the lines with a small, expensive fine brush when you could more easily, and with greater reward, paint with a BROAD brush.  What's the penalty?  The "enterprise business" walks?  Apple appears to be saying "so what".  As we are seeing, the enterprise will come back when the end user knocks on his bosses door and pleads his case for the technology enabling product that he can be more productive with.  And who isn't going to be more productive with Apple technology? (Apple haters need not answer).

In a political context, It’s kind of a Libertarian view of the world.  You can try to MAKE things happen (government intervention, government spending) or you can just foster the environment for ALL things to just be allowed to happen (easier regulations, lower corporate taxes), and let nature take its course.  In this "political model" you have to have faith in American ingenuity to engineer, design, and create the best products and services in the world.

In Apple’s case, they ARE the best engineering and design company, creating the products that the masses MUST HAVE.  Sure Apple has had little hiccups, but one cannot deny that Apple products just work, and more often than not, exceed the buyers expectations.  They were a true innovator with the iPhone, and the rest of the world has spent the last four years catching up.  They were first with the iPad 18 months ago, and I am still waiting for threatening competitor.  I have yet to meet some one that tries switching from Windows to Mac and decides to go back.


Consumers: Apple's gateway to the Enterprise

It just takes a quick stroll through any major airport in the US to see the progress that Apple has made in the last decade.  More and more the business travelers you see are carrying Apple laptops and using iPhones.  This is long technology journey that has brought the business traveler to this point.

Back in the 70s and 80s, people usually encountered computer technology at work rather than at home. You had a text-based terminal connected to some corporate mainframe, which you probably never saw. As a result, workers were introduced to computers as something they couldn't and wouldn't have wanted to use at home.

This all changed in the 90s, when Windows PCs started replacing lackluster terminals. The design of the PC, with its local storage and personalization features like desktop wallpaper and themes, made technology at work much more personal. Workers started to become more interested in using their computers, and even thought about having them at home. When it came to buying, people went looking for computers like the ones they were used to. This is known as Microsoft's halo effect: MS Windows was the software everyone already knew.

At that time, Apple had strategy issues--meaning, Steve issues--and it was not chasing the Enterprise the way Microsoft was. Avid Apple users watched Microsoft's achievements in business, and the carryover to the home market. We noticed each time a friend bought a new computer, it was almost always a Windows computer. It wasn’t that these users necessarily enjoyed the Windows experience, it was that they knew it. It was familiar. Accessible.

The first real dent in the Microsoft halo came in October of 2001, when Apple unveiled the iPod, and a different strategy. Apple was going to attack the market from the other direction, creating a demand for their products by going directly at the consumer. The iPod, of course, was a runaway hit, without any hard technology innovation. The iPod simply took some pervasive technology (in the form of a portable disk drive), and wrapped it in a stylish and efficient user interface. All it took was a minute with a friend’s iPod once to sway you to get your own.

Suddenly, iPods and ads for iPods were everywhere. Consumers everywhere immediately appreciated the shiny hybrid of style and technology.  It was the first step towards cementing users to the Apple brand. Next came the iTunes software that can only be described as sheer brilliance. iTunes found a way to make our computers even more personal, putting my entire collection of music in one place.  Suddenly millions of us had Apple Technology with us at all times. Both Mac and Windows users had Apple hardware and software in the form of the iPod and iTunes. This set the stage for the Apple Experience.

Then came the iPhone, which was not just a phone, not just a music player, but a full-blown handheld computing device. iPhone users could decide what they wanted out of technology because they had it all in their hands, all the time. By 2008, when the iPod and iPhone users were tallied, millions were using Apple Technology, and the user base was blooming. Computer usage reports on college students are conclusive; they are devoted Mac users.  You know they expect the very same in in the workplace once they graduate. Employers are now finding they need to add Macs to the workplace to meet the personal and technological demands of their employees.

It's a repeat of what happened when the first wave of PCs hit the enterprise, replacing dumb terminals. Who would want to work for a company why that made you sit in front of a green screen? Today the incoming workforce, addicted to their iPhones, is biased toward Apple technology. And the effect is spreading: the last Apple results pointed out that 50% of the people buying Macs in the last quarter (and there were 3.5M of them) were buying Macs for the first time! Still!

My company sells an enterprise software application that runs natively on the Mac. Five years ago, our prospective customers were a small group of Mac faithful.  Sometimes it was only the CEO who used a Mac while wanting to find a Mac solution. Limited in choices, they had to settle for something on Windows to run his/her business.

These days, however, we are approached by more and more companies that have switched entirely to the Mac. CIO’s no longer have the luxury of doing the Windows thing and knowing that the users will get in line.  The end user is pushing their consumer-based technology preferences at work. ‘Why can’t I use a Mac here at work?’ ‘Why can’t I use my iPhone to check my email and check in?’

Companies of all sizes must now be able to answer such questions. Employers must take the necessary steps and adjust in order to make the workplace work for their employees. The best always have. Today a VERY real company benefit is when a progressive, forward thinking company uses Apple Technology in the workplace. Don’t you want to work there?