When you're listening to music, it's likely your earbuds are plugged into an Apple device. Making a phone call? One out of every five people buying a smartphone are choosing an iPhone. And Apple's share of consumer laptop sales jumped to 10.6 percent in the last quarter.
Now here's the big question: Does your IT department, the guys who think it's just fine that you're still using a Windows XP laptop (and P.S., stop whining about it), give a hoot about all this Apple stuff?
Apple executives hope so. The pitch the company has been making in recent months is simple: Employees are already using plenty of Apple products on their own time and like them, and the iPad is a great, lightweight tool for Web-based corporate software. If you thought this was just lip service, Apple is even now working with the decidedly old-school consultants at Unisys to approach big corporate and government customers.
If Apple can make these sorts of corporate inroads, it could be Steve Jobs' greatest trick yet, because he's got a lot going against him in the corporate market. As of the third quarter of 2010, Apple sold 1.4 million of the 40.8 million computers sold to commercial customers, according to data gathered by IDC. That's 3.6 percent of all corporate computer sales.
Blame history...and inertia. Large companies usually have a contract with a Windows-based PC seller, often a third party. Switching contractors could result in higher costs and a lot of hassle, and can also be stymied by an old-school perception among the often conservative IT outfits at large companies that Macs are "toys," and can't integrate easily with Windows-based systems. On the mobile side, corporate IT shops long ago became comfortable working with Research In Motion's Blackberry; supporting the iPhone could add new complexity and potentially more cost to their work. Many people don't even know Apple sells servers. (It does.) And the iPad? Well, you could argue the touch-screen tablet computing market didn't exist a year ago.
Andrew Kaiser, a former Apple business sales manager who hawked enterprise systems to companies of all sizes until recently, said often the biggest barriers in selling were opinions formed sometimes decades ago, before Office for Mac, before virtualization, and before Apple switched to Intel chips. "Some had no idea Apple could integrate into a Windows platform," he recalled.
Employees like Thomas Caleshu, an interactive producer for educational software maker WestEd, have seen that firsthand. Caleshu is an iPhone and Mac user outside of work, and though he said there were no technical issues in getting his company's IT guys to add his iPhone and MacBook to the network, they were definitely skeptical.
"Some of the established IT people didn't trust or believe that I could sync my calendar on my phone, and on iCal on my Mac, and in a (corporate) Web interface," he said. "I had to prove it to them." … Read more