The news that Apple plans to move more directly into the business market might send a few shivers down the spines of established players such as Microsoft. So far in recent times, Apple has had the Midas touch in most markets and ventures it undertakes, so the knowledge it is making a concerted effort to crack another new market is sobering indeed for the competition.
Apple’s Gateway into the Business Market
Of course, Apple already has a presence in the business market with the army of people using iPhones and iPads, so it’s perhaps the logical next step for an organisation to facilitate their use within its existing infrastructure.
The iOS platform that iPhones and iPads run on has gone mainstream with all the various apps available and the huge number of users. This is a far cry from when Apple were considered more niche with their range of computers before they morphed into a consumer electronics company.
The common use of iOS driven Apple devices has caused companies and organisations to make their networks and overall infrastructure friendly towards the platform. Apple claim that nearly all Fortune 500 companies put iOS at the centre of their mobile strategy.
A Key Collaboration
Along with the natural evolution of organisations embracing Apple’s platform is the partnership between Apple and computer networking giant Cisco. The aim is to provide networks optimised to provide a “fast lane” for iOS devices – and with Cisco claiming that 95% of companies in the Fortune 500 rely on their networking expertise, Apple’s growth in this market seems assured.
Cisco themselves have had experience of how Apple has grown in popularity: in 2009 they implemented a “bring your own” policy in which employees bought their own phones and tablets with the company paying for Internet access and wi-fi in some cases. Since then, they’ve seen iPhones and iPads account for nearly three-quarters of the 70,000 mobile devices supported by their tech department.
The same goes for computers. When Cisco gave their employees the option of switching to the Mac platform from Windows, many did and now around a quarter of the company-supplied laptops are Apple Macs.
Barriers Breaking Down
A traditional barrier to Mac use in business used to be software as much business software was Windows-based. Nowadays, however, cross-platform compatibility is easier not to mention the rise in the use of web-based software.
Apple themselves didn’t previously chase after corporate business especially, but now they’re courting the corporate market more with adaptations to the iOS mobile platform and OS X (the operating system for their computers). For example, easier linking to in-house email systems and enhanced encryption technology make Macs more applicable to business use.
This all creates a big threat to Microsoft – traditionally dominant in the business market – as usage of devices switches more and more to mobile devices and away from desktop PC’s. Of course Microsoft have their own mobile offering, but the market is dominated by Apple’s iOS and the Android platform.
Will Apple Be a Success in Business?
Their past track record would suggest they will. There were doubters who questioned their decision to enter the ultra-competitive mobile phone market, and many thought the tablet market was a waste of time. Since then, Apple has enjoyed huge success with both, and the iPhone especially is a massive hit to the point where it accounts for nearly half of Apple’s revenues.
That said, there are challenges ahead. Another major player, Google, are making inroads with their popular Android platform and time will tell if Apple strike a good balance between being a corporate and consumer brand.
About the Author
Alex Viall is the Director of IT support provider Mustard IT, a London based company which offers professional services to businesses across London and the Home Counties.
Photo credit: Apple