Can Apple’s switch to Intel processors help Mac crack Windows’ corporate desktop stranglehold?

“Jason Castan, principal of Emperor’s Mind, a systems integrator working in corporate and specialist graphics markets in Melbourne and Sydney, says [Apple’s] switch [from PowerPC to Intel processors in Macs] means short-term pain for long-term gain that may not be seen for six months to a year, when software companies such as Adobe are expected to produce Intel-compliant software for the Mac,” Garry Barker reports for The Sydney Morning Herald. “The pain for corporate and big graphics companies and advertising creative staff is in the performance drop from the new computers having to run current Adobe, Microsoft and other software under Rosetta, translation software Apple has written to bridge the gap between the new platform and when applications will be ready to run natively on the Intel chips, Mr Castan says.”

“For Mac vendors there is short-term pain because companies that depend on Office and Adobe’s Creative Suite will delay replacing their G5 Macs until Intel Mac-native versions of these critical applications appear. But, says Mr Castan, ‘there is a speed benefit to come and a we’re-on-the-same-side-of-the-fence benefit in terms of the processor, and a megahertz benefit in that Apple can have any top-of-the line Intel thing there is,'” Barker reports. “From the Motorola 68x family of processors, superseded in 1991, to the PowerPC originally developed by a consortium of engineers from Motorola, IBM and Apple, Apple had always appeared to lag in speed behind Windows machines with chips from Intel and AMD. Clock speed is not the sole arbiter of PC performance but Intel’s bigger numbers looked impressive and probably had an effect on sales, although other aspects of the Windows scene such as Outlook and Exchange were more important to enterprise buyers.”

“Apple’s Mac OS X, based on Unix and now widely regarded as the best operating system on the market, is derived from NeXT, a system developed in the late 1980s and early ’90s by a company that Mr Jobs set up when he was in exile from Apple. He returned to Apple in 1996, when then chief executive Gil Amelio bought NeXT to get its operating system. NeXT ran on Intel. In back rooms at Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California, and in geek-joints all over the world, MacOS X has been running on Intel machines for about five years; since the beginning,” Barker reports. “‘The whole megahertz thing has gone away,’ says Mr Castan. ‘It has vanished. All of a sudden, your MacBook Pro Duos notebook is running as fast as or faster than the Toshiba or HP equivalents.’ Remaining are operating system issues, he says, such as can a Mac be run in an Exchange environment… for corporate IT chiefs the big issue is Outlook, Mr Castan says. ‘That is the big hurdle. The issue at the moment is not the processor but how can they integrate the Mac into Active Directory, how are they going to get Exchange – all those sort of questions.’ Apple also has a usability advantage. Compared with Mac OS X, Windows is difficult, awkward and often opaque. Changing to Intel has removed a lot of myths about the Mac – that they’re slower, more expensive. Those issues have been pushed aside.”

“Microsoft has a stranglehold on the corporate market, not because Windows is a superior operating system, which by long-standing consensus it is not, but because important applications such as, and in particular, Outlook and Exchange, offer functionality that have not been matched in the Apple environment,” Barker writes. “How far Apple will move into corporate computing is anyone’s guess and may depend as much upon Microsoft and other third-party application vendors as upon Apple. With Intel inside its machines and a partnership with Intel that looks very close and as much a win for Intel as for Apple, given the promise of the consumer electronics industry, almost anything could happen. Big corporations take a long time to change course. But business patterns are changing very quickly. Mobility is now the mantra for many. The internet is all-powerful and will become more so. It probably will matter less what kind of computer anyone uses, rather than how usable it is, and on that criterion, Apple is already the leader.”

Full article with much, much more here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Is it time for your business to consider Apple Macintosh? – January 26, 2006
LANDesk Exec: Apple Macintosh has now crossed two of the three barriers to enterprise computing – January 23, 2006
InformationWeek: Intel-based Macs won’t cause many businesses to replace their Windows PCs – January 16, 2006

14 Comments

  1. Simple answer.

    NO.

    Why – because in my experience working in global bluechip companies their buying policy is based on the cheapest price along with getting 3 quotes from companies offering the same hardware configs.

    Meaning, for Apple to crack the corporate market they would have to licence OS X to other pc makers so that there is not a monopoly on choice.

    This is a sad fact of of the corporate sector.

    Another important factor is that OS X is too good.

    Hard to believe I know, but employers don’t want workers to be playing in iphoto of ichat while at work.

    Apple would have to create a striped down version of OS X for the corporate market.

    These are the facts im affraid.

  2. After all that has transpired since NeXT/Rhapsody/OS X, did Apple keep the ability to switch to Intel (Marklar) at the price of reduced performance on the PowerPC hardware? Otherwise did Apple make API/coding/protocol/software decisions that would hurt optimum PPC performance in order to maintain the ability to easily switch the OS from a RISC with AltiVec CPU to a CISC plus SSEI CPU? I am really surprised that nobody has asked this question.

  3. Petey is right. Companies want the cheapest, most basic computers that money can buy. That usually means Dells, HPs or Sonys if they feel like splurging.
    Many schools are the same way.
    Apple needs to produce a cheap OS X box to compete with Dell.

  4. If Outlook and Exchange are the reasons holding back the Mac in the corporate market, aren’t there alternatives?, like say for Exchange it could be Lotus Notes, and as for Outlook doesn’t Entourage adds new connectivity features to Exchange servers?

  5. My company switched us recently from Outlook to Lotus Notes. I note Notes is Java based. The reason given for switching was that Notes has more capable stuff (but which 99% of us will never use) and that the user base is quickly coming to Outlook’s absolute limit. Not sure of this as I’m not a techy but I believe the real reason was the licensing cost….

    However, the cost to the company is not quite as cut and dried, as using Notes is akin to wading through treacle & its really slow. Given that a Company in my industry’s biggest cost is people every time we have to wait for Notes to Open, itself or a file, will soon add up. Stooopid

  6. Not going to happen. There is no business software available for the Mac. All the major business applications all run on Windows, virtually nothing runs on a Mac. None of the standard security software runs on the mac so viruses and malware run unabated through your network. Apple does not address security problems and is pretending that nothing is wrong.

    No one is going to purchase a computer that is 400% slower than what is out now for $1000 more than the old system price. Companies are going to stick with the tried and true business hardware companies like Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

    In 6 months the only thing Apple is going to sell is stereo equipment after all the security problems their OSX has.

  7. In 6 months Windows will run on Macs (in protected mode). If you want (and need) MS crappola you’ll be able to run it on a “secure” Mac machine that costs under $500 (that’s a throwaway in corporate speak).

    As for corporate computing their ugrade cycle has lengthened dramatically. They won’t be replacing all their desktops just because MS cranks out LongTurd in 6 versions. If their PC desktops are working, they won’t be replacing them soon. I’ve worked for several Fortune 50 companys and know this from direct experience.

    Consumers, on the other hand, make impulse buys and so they’re the prime targets in the sights of Apple. There are a lot more “potential” buyers in the consumer sector than corporate.

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