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IBM’s new Mac push—good for more than enterprise?

IBM’s good news about Macs in enterprises is music to the Apple faithful, but does a Mac rush in enterprise mean good things for Apple’s core creative class Mac users?


Apple’s new best buddy in the tech world has come out with an impactful announcement regarding the support and launch of Macs at scale for larger enterprises via the cloud. Big Blue is commercializing new MobileFirst Managed Mobility Services (MFMMS) to provide easy, secure self-service, support for Apple’s Mac computers.

At the heart of the IBM services for Macs is JAMF Software’s Casper Suite of tools for enterprise-grade deployment and management.

Why Mac at IBM?

While IBM and Apple were already in a formal partnership for bringing enterprise mobile first (iPad / iPhone) solutions to enterprises across dozens of industries, that partnership is still quite new and thus one can ask, why the Mac push now?

The answer is manyfold. IBM says that there is growing demand among its larger enterprise customers to incorporate Macs within their IT infrastructures. Big companies are adopting Macs, in many cases replacing aging Windows PCs, not just supplementing them.

01 - Tim Cook, CEO of Apple with IBM CEO Ginni Remetty. (image: Apple)

01 – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple with IBM CEO Ginni Remetty. (image: Apple)

Just as importantly, shipments of Apple’s Macs continue to outpace the PC industry quarter after quarter by stunning margins. The Windows PC world is seeing contraction in numbers while the Mac installed base is growing at double-digit percentages. In a special analysis piece published earlier this year, we projected how PC to Mac unit ratios will reach 1991 levels by 2019.

MORE: Analysis: How PC to Mac unit ratio will reach 1991 levels by 2019

That’s when Apple shipped one (1) Mac for every six (6) PCs. Flash back to around 2001 – 2004 and Apple shipped about one (1) Mac for every 50 plus PCs. (see chart here).

With IBM’s new push, Apple’s Mac growth rate against Windows PCs is further fortified. And it’s coming at a time when Windows 10 may shine more focus back on Microsoft’s OS offerings.

Tools Chains Begin to Equalize

So while Macs begin to sprout up in large volumes across IBM’s enterprise customers, the question remains is this good for the Mac in general and if so how? And is this also good for Apple’s core professional Mac customers, the ones in creative industries like music, architecture and publishing?

The short answer is yes, no, maybe?

If IBM makes good on its push of Macs in larger enterprises Apple will no doubt see increased market share stories, further fortifying the Mac momentum story and this will bring about even more software innovation in the Mac space. It will also increase the need for more Mac related hardware peripherals and accessories, though the Mac today has the most robust environment it has arguably ever had. It can always get better!

MORE: Over half of IBM’s 380,000 workers could soon be on MacBooks

Importantly, it will also greatly fortify and neutralize the “tool chains” software developers use to make their software. These are the software development kits (SDKs), engines, cores, et cetera, software developers utilize to make their products. Traditionally, this has often been a weak point holding Mac software development back in important vertical and niche markets. With volume, these tool chain developers respond to the pressure and produce Mac-ready tool kits. This matters immensely in the timing of the release of Mac software. So “yes” there is clearly upside spilling over from an enterprise Mac rush. Because seats matter because licensing revenues matter!

The “no” comes in if Apple takes it eyes and heart off the much smaller but more important valuable Mac creatives. Architects, designers and other creatives don’t like business-class configurations in their hardware and they need focus on features that matter more for their types of work. A vision of Macs in every Fortune 500 company tied to the cloud paints a picture of Macs in a different way than most Mac pro customers prefer.

So will Apple’s future Macs please Apple’s faithful old customers? That’s where the “maybe” comes in. Expanding for enterprise while retaining for creatives will be a demanding balance. And that’s the lesson focus that Apple must remember moving forward.

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  1. IBM’s new Mac push—good for more than enterprise? | Architosh

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