More enterprises are embracing Macs, but is OS X actually challenging Windows?
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According to conventional wisdom, Macs are popular among artists, designers, schools, and well-heeled consumers, but Windows devices dominate the enterprise PC scene. That could be changing. According to a new report commissioned by VMware, Microsoft is losing its grip as user preference swings toward Apple computers.
Provocatively titled "The Apple Enterprise Invasion," the report is based on a survey of 376 IT professionals, and claims 71% of organizations support Macs. Seventy-three percent of respondents cited user preference as a reason to let employees use Apple machines.
Preference was far and away the top rationale for supporting Macs. The need for OS X-specific applications, indicated by 40% of the respondents who support Macs, was the second most-widely cited reason. The report suggests BYOD programs have helped Macs gain a foothold, noting that 27% of respondents said their company explicitly supports BYOD, and that another 49% support BYOD unofficially.
The report also dissected why users want to use Macs. Over 70% of respondents said employees perceive Macs as easier to use than Windows PCs. A little over half said workers think Apple computers are simply "cooler."
Macs don't appear to be making life simpler for IT staff, however. Only 25% of respondents said Macs are easier to support, while nearly 40% said Apple machines are more difficult. Eighty-three percent of those polled said at least some of their enterprise applications will run on Macs, but only 8% said that all of their essential apps are Mac-friendly.
Alhough Apple's making progress, there's reason to doubt Macs will supplant Windows PCs in the workplace. If Apple were encroaching on Microsoft's PC territory, Macs should have gained more ground in the lead-up to Windows XP's April end-of-life deadline. But based on statistics released by Web-tracking firm Net Applications, Windows 7 has been the primary beneficiary of XP's retirement. Windows still holds over 90% of the market, while OS X has actually lost share so far this year.
Web-use statistics take into account all machines, old and new, that access tracking networks on the public Internet, so they say more about long-term trends than about current trends. In April, Apple reported second-quarter earnings that included 4.14 million Mac sales, a slight increase year-over-year. During the same period, the overall PC industry was shrinking -- a point Apple execs highlighted. Perhaps the Net Applications data masked Apple's recent success?
Not exactly, according to figures from research firm Gartner. During Apple's second quarter, Gartner said most of the PC industry's losses stemmed from Acer's crashing business, as well as struggles among smaller, less-known OEMs. Gartner said Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Asus all shipped more units than they had during the year-ago period. If Apple defied the PC slump, several Windows OEMs defied it even more, at least in XP's final months.
One can also quibble with the survey, which was conducted by Dimensional Research. For one thing, the sample size of 376 participants is relatively small. Moreover, around 80% of respondents work in Apple's No. 1
Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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