Government // Mobile & Wireless
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10/7/2009
05:05 PM
Jake Widman
Jake Widman
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Macs In SMBs 'On The Incline,' Say Distributors

Following up on a survey on Macs for home use that found a 33 percent increase over last year, Apple's top two distributors said they're seeing the same kind of growth in commercial installations. One of the drivers: the preferences of new workers.

Following up on a survey on Macs for home use that found a 33 percent increase over last year, Apple's top two distributors said they're seeing the same kind of growth in commercial installations. One of the drivers: the preferences of new workers.Earlier this week, market researchers The NPD Group released their 2009 Household Penetration Study, which found that 12 percent of U.S. computer-owning households had Macs -- up from 9 percent in 2008. As a followup, sales-channel-oriented site ChannelWeb asked representatives of Ingram Micro and Tech Data, Apple's two major distributors, about growth in the commercial market.

The ChannelWeb article quotes Ingram Micro vice president Kevin Prewett as saying, "It's probably smaller but it's climbing for commercial. I've never been asked to put a number on it, or seen a number for commercial, but it's on the incline here."

Bob Shouse, the senior manager of Tech Data's Apple unit, agreed: "The numbers are increasing for developing B2B business as Apple puts more solutions into the SMB market." Shouse links the increasing Mac market share to the increasing number of applications available...which leads to more companies being able to choose Macs, which leads to greater market share, which leads to more applications, and so on.

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One factor both men cite is the comfort level of new workers with Macs and Apple products in general. Recent college graduates ask for Macs in the workplace, according to Prewett. That echoes the results of a survey announced last month by Parallels, which makes software that enables Windows to be run on a Mac. The Parallesls survey found that 36 percent of undergraduates planned to purchase a Mac. When those students turn into graduates and your new hires, they're going to bring their Mac-oriented expectations with them, and being able to accommodate that will be a real plus for hiring managers. ChannelWeb quotes Prewett on the subject: "If people had two jobs to choose from and one was a Mac, they were choosing the one they're comfortable with. There's less of that now because the job market has gotten worse, but when it comes back, you'll see them pushing for the product they know and are comfortable with."

In case that makes you nervous, note that we said "accommodate," not "run your whole operation on Macs." (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) These workers may be more comfortable with Macs, but they likely know Windows as well. The Parallels survey found that "a significant number of student Mac users still want to be able to run Windows or PC-based applications." And the NPD study found that 66 percent of Mac-owning households had three or more computers in them and 85 percent also had a Windows PC under the same roof.

And in addition to the embrace of virtualization software such as Parallels and VMWare fusion, which enable users to run Windows on their Macs, the shift of computing to the browser and the cloud also is lessening the barriers between the two platforms. SMBs are less likely to labor under the same kinds of constraints that tie large enterprises to Windows, so it's no surprise to see Mac use growing among SMBs as it grows among the population at large.

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