Apple: Gaining business market share without doing the work

But in just a few short years, Apple has made some significant headway in the business world and has done so without doing anything. Take a look back at the latest releases from Apple and you won't find a product designed for businesses. And yet, Apple'

If you've been following the technology business for any extended amount of time, you would know that Apple has gone missing in the business world. If you look back at the nineties, Apple computers were not only few and far between, most IT managers would cringe at the site of an employee bringing an Apple product in-house.

But in just a few short years, Apple has made some significant headway in the business world and has done so without doing anything. Take a look back at the latest releases from Apple and you won't find a product designed for businesses. And yet, Apple's market share in small-to-midsized businesses has increased dramatically. For the first time, we are witnessing something that has no explanation or historical precursors. For the first time, a company is gaining market share without doing a thing.

According to AMI Partners in a report filed in July, Apple's desktop market share in the medium business segment (100-999 employees) soared from 13% to a whopping 27% in just one year, while its notebook segment commands 18% market share in the same segment. In small enterprises (1-99 employees), Apple's desktop and notebook market share raised to 12% and 8%, respectively.

These numbers reflect Apple market share growth since 2006. Am I missing something here? Did Apple release business products that somehow escaped my grasp? And when did Apple products become so appealing to businesses? Isn't XP or Vista the proven leader in the industry? Not anymore.

Businesses have finally awoken to the fact that there are other solutions in the wild that may be able to solve the same issues (if not more) than the current product. And while I understand some of these businesses could be design and media companies, there is no indication that these numbers reflect the (mostly erroneous) argument that Max OS X is not suitable for the corporate world.

Apple has successfully created a new, profitable market segment for itself by simply creating products that make us go "wow". The company didn't create an enterprise-ready desktop or laptop and it certainly didn't offer a product that is aimed at the IT manager in all of us. Instead, it reversed the Dell formula that worked so well.

Back in the nineties, in an effort to increase consumer sales after poor revenue gains from retail store outlets, Dell realized that its best hope was to appeal to businesses. It figured that if a business adopted Dell computers, its employees would as well. It worked.

Apple on the other hand, created products that appealed to our senses with great designs and zippy speeds. It inched its way into our lives with computers, digital audio players and now cell phones. It created a successful ad campaign that put it back on the map and it appealed to those people who were tired of BSODs and spyware infestations. Apple appealed to the consumer in all of us because it realized that CTOs and IT managers are consumers too. And if those people realized the benefits of owning a Mac, surely they would install the company's machines into their businesses. It worked.

In an incredibly short amount of time, Apple has successfully put Microsoft on notice and made inroads into the business world without really trying. In just a few short years, Dell and HP computers have been replaced with that familiar Apple logo. And while Apple currently reaps the benefit of business-to-business sales, the real question now is where should it go next? Should it appeal to businesses and make a business-friendly device? Absolutely not.

There is no reason for Apple to create computers for businesses. Why should it? We've already found that it's doing extremely well without creating a business product, why should it start now? If historical figures are any indication of future market share potential, Apple is looking at a 50% ownership of SMB computer use by the end of the decade. Not too shabby for a company that doesn't pay too much attention to the sector.

If we have learned nothing else from Apple over the past decade, we have learned that it knows how to appeal to the consumer. And by appealing to the consumer in such an efficient way, the company has silently begun its domination of the work environment. But because people try to downplay Apple's strides in that sector, most still believe that an iMac or MacBookPro are incapable of providing the same benefits of a Dell or Lenovo machine. Simply put, that argument is pure rubbish.

The wait is over and its time we open our eyes -- Apple is a significant player in business and nothing (or no one) will change that.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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