Mac OS X surges in business, thanks to the iPad

A third of all big businesses now give employees the choice of a Mac -- and most employees take it

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry is not known for mincing words -- or holding back his opinion. For example, back in March, he lambasted the weak sales of the Motorola Xoom tablet and called the Google Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" OS a "mess" at a time when most analysts were being circumspect.

Now Chowdhry says his research shows that Apple is growing significantly in the enterprise as more companies offer it as an option to employees -- and as most employees take up the offer: "Probably about 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are giving Apple as a choice to its employees, and the majority are preferring Apple over Windows."

It's a sign of the BYOD (bring your own device) times -- or at least the employee-choice times -- that the iPhone and now iPad have engendered.

Chowdhry credits the growth of Macs in business to "the success of iPad, which is putting pressure on enterprise IT to not only support iPad, but also Apple iPhones and Apple iMacs and MacBooks." He also says that high-level executives are now "influencing IT to bring Apple products into the enterprise." I've long seen the iPhone as Apple's stealth entry vehicle into business, but it appears that the iPad is even more effective as Apple's business spearhead.

The findings of enterprise acceptance -- even embrace, in some organizations -- is a nice reward to Apple, which has publicly avoided suggesting any enterprise ambitions while steadily adding business capabilities, such as Exchange ActiveSync support to both Mac OS X and iOS over the years. That quiet deepening of business capability deepends in the forthcoming Mac OS X Lion, which adds support for whole-disk encryption and policy-based management of iOS and Mac OS X devices. Although Apple has occasionally suggested interest in business customers -- such as in heralding the fit of Mac OS X and iOS in business last January -- it normally ignores business concerns in its product launchfests. (In an interesting interview with Cult of Mac, former Apple CEO John Sculley explains why he thinks Apple's business presence will only continue to grow.)

Chowdhry also suggests that Apple's strong dominance of the mobile applications market will continue unabated. The Apple iOS developer ecosystem will continue to "grow at the expense of Android, RIM, and Windows," he says. Despite the new competition from Android, Windows Phone 7, and WebOS, and RIM's attenpts to get developers to support its BlackBerry platform, Chowdhry says "developers are increasingly developing" for iOS -- and the forthcoming iOS 5 will server as "another catalyst" in magnifying developer momentum to iOS.

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