A year ago, IBM partnered with Apple to bring iOS devices and applications to the enterprise. The once mortal enemies are now looking to take their relationship to the next level with IBM planning a mass adoption of MacBooks in its own organisation. Is your company looking to follow in IBM's footsteps? We have a few pointers for you.
Apple products picture from Shutterstock
In a report by MacRumors, IBM flagged its intentions to buy up to 200,000 Macs for its employees, effectively converting 50-75 per cent of its workforce away from Lenovo ThinkPads by the end of the rollout. This would make IBM the largest corporate customer for Apple and has the potential to inspire other enterprises to consider an Apple adoption themselves.
It helps that IBM no longer compete against Apple in end-user hardware after selling its PC business off 10 years ago. The two vendors now complement each other well for the business market: Apple brings its famous mobility hardware to the table while IBM offers complex analytics and cloud services to those devices.
Apple's dominance in the consumer market has already helped iOS edge its way into organisations with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangements leading to to a wave of iPhones and iPads connected to corporate networks. One feature enterprises would appreciate on Apple devices is how well all the desktop and mobile devices in their ecosystem interconnect together, which would come in handy for users. You can also dual-boot Windows on Mac computers, making it more palatable for businesses that require the competing OS for crucial applications.
There is one thing about Apple devices that may be hard for companies to swallow: the price tag.
Analyst firm Gartner took a closer look at Apple in the commerical space, breaking down its strengths and weaknesses and one of the biggest drawbacks is that the company's products are limited mainly to the high-end segments.
"Apple's products cost much more than its competitors' devices and its average selling price is above the industry average," Gartner said in its report.
"Users can find similar features and performance for lower price, but Apple does not make any low-end or "budget" products, and does not want to sacrifice quality for price... As the market shifts towards lower prices, the lack of low-end products restrains Apple's ability to expand within the PC market."
This hasn't stopped Apple's growth in the local enterprise space. According to Telsyte, in 2014, around 12 percent of businesses in Australia with over 20 employees were using OS X in their offices but that's usually companies at the smaller end of town. While the growth is slower with the traditional government and regulated industries such as finance, Mac products are gaining ground across all sectors, he said.
"Most organisations are looking at a multidevice strategy and IT departments are happy to support multiple products," he told Lifehacker Australia. "The reality is most apps will work equally well on both Windows and OS X, so there's not much difference these days. But the fact OS X machines are harder to break and are perceived as more secure does have its benefits."
Apple's suite of reputable productivity applications are being favoured by enterprises as well, according to Gartner, not to mention it has beefed up its security and management capabilities to take care of fleets of mobile devices. Apple's improvements to its Volume Purchasing Program also serves to sweeten the deal.
But one of the more compelling reasons for organisations to take on Apple devices has nothing to do with costs and productivity gains: it's the talent these devices attract.
Gartner has noted several companies in the US and Europe are splurging on the premium devices to attract "a younger, more social and brand-focused workforce." Whether you agree or not, Apple products exude a sense of innovation, creativity and simplicity, all of which makes them appealing to the 'hip, young and smart' demographic. Organisations that want to be seen as trailblazers are eager to tap into that workforce.
So what should you do if you want to make the leap to iOS and OS X for your business?
Fadaghi notes that some users may be resistant to the change from Windows to Mac so virtualisation will play a huge role in garnering acceptance. There are already vendors out there that facilitates Windows to be run as a virtual machine on Mac devices with complementary management tools to give admin good deployment and control capabilities.
One of the biggest players in this space, VMware, has been pushing virtual desktops for PCs and Macs for a while and Horizon Air, it's desktop-as-a-service plaform, has just been launched in Australia. Another recommendation from Fadaghi is to ensure organisations pick and choose which Apple devices to assign to each user.
"Look at it from a more comprehensive user computing perspective," he said. "Maybe aan iPad is better for one personal than a full-blown Mac. Others could be better suited to iMacs. Think of it in the context of how individuals work in your business."
For users that will be bestowed a Mac by their employers, we have some advice on how to make the most of the device. We have compiled a list of essential productivity apps for the Mac platform and have tips on how to deal with a sluggish Mac should you end up loading it up with junk. It's also worth mentioning Office For Mac 2016 is now available for Office 365 subscribers which will definitely be useful for a lot of office workers.
Is your organisation looking to deploy iOS and OS X to end-users? Let us know in the comments below.