- Mac versions of enterprise applications either don't exist or lag behind releases for Windows.
- There are few tools for managing Macs on a large scale and integrating them into a Windows-centric enterprise.
- The perception remains that Apple products are expensive.
- IT managers say that service and support options aren't up to enterprise standards.
- Apple doesn't provide a product road map to help IT managers make plans.
- Enterprises have limited opportunities to negotiate prices for Apple products.
At the same time, the survey and interviews with enterprise IT executives indicate that Apple's position has improved in some areas:
- More businesses are buying or building platform-agnostic applications that can accommodate Apple products.
- Enterprise-class management tools for Apple products continue to evolve.
- Apple's prices are becoming more competitive.
- The trend toward Web-based enterprise applications has made integrating Apple products easier.
- In the tablet market, competitors arguably have yet to offer a product that's a better value than the iPad.
Apple still doesn't play in the low end of the desktop and laptop markets, but it's much more competitive than it once was on the types of units enterprises tend to buy, says Laura DiDio, an analyst at market research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting (ITIC). Mac products, which once sold for a 30 percent premium over comparable PCs, have come down to earth. "Apple doesn't get a lot of credit for that," she says.
But IT executives tend to see Apple as a provider of consumer-oriented devices, not a full-on enterprise partner. "In the Windows space, we've got a full-time Microsoft support team that is very engaged in what we do. With Apple, they haven't matured into that yet," says USAA's Pansini.
On the desktop side of the business, an iPhone/iPad "halo effect" may have been partially responsible for a 255 percent increase in Mac desktop and MacBook sales to enterprises in 2010, as reported by IDC. But that figure is somewhat misleading. Shipments of Mac products to large businesses still represent less than 2 percent of the overall enterprise PC market in the U.S., according to IDC figures. "Apple's market share is absolutely insignificant," says IDC analyst David Daoud.
Nonetheless, Mac sales to the enterprise are up sharply, relatively speaking. More than a quarter (27 percent) of the Computerworld survey's enterprise IT respondents who support Apple products said support for iOS devices had either sparked interest in adopting Macs or had resulted in greater adoption of Macs. "I wouldn't say they're buying Macs in droves," says Gartner analyst Michael Silver. "But more Macs are being supported as part of bring-your-own-computer initiatives."
However, when it comes to media tablets, Apple's iPad owns the category, accounting for more than 90 percent of the 300,000 units shipped in the U.S. for commercial use in 2010. Increasingly, users are picking their own smartphones and tablets and are asking to use them for work. IDC expects the number of commercial shipments of media tablets to jump to 1.3 million this year. "It's become an unstoppable force," says Silver. "It's gotten harder to say no."