Conditions are right for Mac to grow beyond its niche in business, some say it’s already happening

“While in the past few years Apple has gotten the most attention from iPods and iTunes, a financial report Wednesday shows it’s selling more Macintosh computers than ever before. What’s more, some see the company expanding beyond its niche status in the business world,” Thomas Claburn reports for InformationWeek.

“Apple sold 1.61 million Macs during its 2006 fourth fiscal quarter, breaking its previous quarterly record of 1.38 million Macs sold, in the first fiscal quarter of 2000. The company sold 8.72 million iPods during the fourth quarter. That represents 30% growth in Mac sales and 35% growth in iPod sales over the same period last year,” Claburn reports.

“Apple’s only real strength in the business world is in graphics and publishing. But Robert Irlbeck, president of Evolution Networks, a systems integration and software development company based in Oakland, Calif., says he sees Apple making gains in other areas, particularly among “alpha geeks”: Senior IT pros who have gravitated to the Mac because of its Unix foundation,” Claburn reports.

“Irlbeck says he has seen several small companies move to the Mac platform, but notes that some barriers remain. While Apple’s decision to move to Intel chips took some of the risk out of buying Macs, he says many businesses still have to run Windows for applications like Microsoft Project or Visio, or certain Web applications that depend on Internet Explorer,” Claburn reports.

MacDailyNews Note: Remember those “roadblocks thrown into the mix by Microsoft… proprietary ‘tech’ that’s designed to keep Windows users shackled to Windows” that we talked about yesterday?

Claburn continues, “Small- and medium-sized businesses will continue to be more receptive to Apple than larger companies, predicts technology analyst Rob Enderle. One problem is Apple’s refusal to provide product roadmaps to large companies, Enderle says, the way that Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and other tech companies do. However, the fact that Intel details the direction of its chip development may satisfy IT managers looking for something more than Apple’s semi-annual theatrics. Another potential problem for Apple, says Enderle, is that government agencies want competitive bidding for contracts. Because of regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley, the government tries to avoid sole-sourced deals, and Apple is the sole supplier of Macs.”

“And don’t forget that the Apple generation will become tomorrow’s professionals. “Fast forward four years from now, where this entire freshman class at college that has gone in with an iPod and a MacBook is getting ready to graduate,” Hoopes says. ‘I think we’re going to have a very interesting dynamic on our hands in that a lot of people, new workers in the workforce, knowledge workers, are going to demand that they work on Apple [Mac].’ A CIO at a large U.S. university, who requested anonymity, says that the percentage of incoming freshmen using Macs at his college increased from 11% in 2005 to 25% this year, reversing years of decline.Claburn reports.

Full article, with even Enderle making sense, here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ve made Mac usage a condition for accepting employment in the past. Not that you have to go so far, but we figure, if you’re going to spend 8-10 hours per day at work on a personal computer, why consign yourself to hell when heaven’s just a Mac away? At work, ask for a Mac, and keep asking regularly. Sometimes they’ll do it just to shut you up. Call it a PC on the forms. Avoid the names “Apple” and “Mac.” Tell them it runs Windows. Do whatever you have to do. Because once you get Macs into a Windows-only shop, wonderful things start to happen.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Getting Macs into businesses despite the IT department – July 19, 2006
Apple takes No. 1 spot in western Europe education; next step: overcome corporate IT ‘mistrust’ – March 05, 2006
FBI: Viruses, spyware, other computer-related crimes cost U.S. businesses $67.2 billion per year – February 01, 2006
Survey shows Apple Macs owned by nearly 10 percent of US small and medium-sized businesses – February 17, 2005
Group of America’s largest corporations complain about software vulnerabilities, security expenses – May 20, 2004


  1. Gil said:

    “The only way I would be able to run a Mac at work is if Autodesk ported Autocad and the Land Development Products to the Mac. I do not wish to run Windows XP under Bootcamp just to run Autocad. Side note I had to reboot 5 times yesterday and I was running simple tasks. Ugh……”

    Gil, run Autocad, etc using Parallels Desktop. It works great!

  2. ” “Small- and medium-sized businesses will continue to be more receptive to Apple than larger companies, predicts technology analyst Rob Enderle”

    How is this a prediction? Anyone who is familiar with the Mac platform already knows this. It doesn’t take an expert to know that larger sized companies are more rigid and tend to move a lot slower in making strategic shifts than smaller ones do and that smaller companies definitely find switching to Macs easier than larger ones.

    I give Rob the “no Duh” award for the day.

  3. I interviewed for an Associate Attorney position with a law firm last week. I was pleasntly surprised when I asked the hiring Partner why they have chosen DELL laptops over MacBook Pros. The Partner was excited to here I was a Mac user and mentioned that he had Macs at home. He said he hoped to convince the other partners at the firm to start using Macs and was happy to have another advocate on his side. Needless to say I got a job offer… I’m sure my mac skills helped.

  4. We have stopped buying all Dell computers and buy only Macs where I work. So far its been working great. Some die-hard wintel users complained at first but are starting to see the light.

    MS/Dell has lost thousands of dollars of our business.


  5. a couple of myth busters for some posts on this thread.
    -Sarbanes-Oxley is about governance and sole sourcing is a vulnerability that can easily lead to fraud. the sole sourcing criteria is embedded in procurement guidance to 1) send more $ to small business and 2) get some price competition. apple is a brand. you can get quotes from apple, any apple var, your brother-in-law, cdw, crutchfield and satisfy any sole sourcing requirement.
    -sap is transitioning to soa and web services from their archaic client server architecture. the core is not much different, just a pretty face and obviously more mac friendly. the good news is that they will not be building their ui to explorer specs. i use sap r3. i expect to retire before i use it with a mac.
    -the barriers for mac entry into the “business culture” is a myth in itself. if you mean a business like chevron or walmart, they do not chose windows, they chose tools to run their business profitably. business culture does not keep macs out of the workplace. most business people are clueless. the self proclaimed IT saviors have created a no brain zone in their area and macs give their customers too much knowledge. its not that macs make them look stupider- that’s already impossible. macs dispose of the myth that computers are hard to use and you need to leave that to the experts. that’s why trying to tip over that windmill is pretty senseless. they apple strategy of focusing on the consumer side will win them profitability and deserved respect. the way the IT people will be extinguished is from the people at the top realizing what most of the people at the bottom already know: the IT department is not a savior, but a leaking profit oriface.

    becoming #3 next quarter will help apple gain more respect. making buckets of money will impress the people in the penthouse more that the fact that it runs windows. that’s what those people respect most. times are good and they will get better.

    mdn word: body…is anybody awake in the penthouse?

  6. Peterson,
    Again with the Vista crap! Two reasons why Vista will launch like a lead zeppelin (yes, I meant the reference): the price and the processor overhead. I predict the vast majority who end up using Vista get it by buying a new computer. Any computer produced before 2006 runs Vista like crap!

  7. Apple is too reticent about declaring its enterprise credentials and suitability for “non-creative” tasks. I groan every time I hear “I’m a Mac” commend “I’m a PC” for being “great with numbers”. How many out there would really prefer to run Mathematica on a PC over a Mac? How about phasing out the current Mac/PC campaign for something serious?

    The “Macs let you get your work done campaign”:
    Scene: An office full of cubicles. Tech guys/gals dealing with another PC failure with the worker standing idle. (Hear the words “PC”) Another screaming about “another virus”. Another talking into the phone saying he “can’t finish the job until his crashed PC comes back up”. Fade to those working on Macs, getting work done. (Fade to Apple logo)

    The “What else can Macs do campaign”:
    Scene: A law office tracking down all case references using Spotlight. Scene: A hospital where radiologists are using Macs to share images. Scene: An office tele-conference using iChat. Scene: A network manager monitoring his enterprise through an Apple big screen, Parallels, etc. (Fade to Apple logo)

    OK, I don’t work in advertising, but you get the idea. Apple should cease selling itself short and get serious.

  8. So let me get this straight: Sales are up 60% in Apple’s 165 retail stores, 50% of all store sales are to first-time Mac users, and… uh… let me guess… Apple might be poised to grow beyond their niche market?

    Briliiant deduction! Absolutely brilliant!!!

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