Can Apple cuddle up to the enterprise?

Summary:Whether Apple can be an enterprise player has been the subject of debate for years, but one analyst thinks that the company's recent purchase of a U.K.

Whether Apple can be an enterprise player has been the subject of debate for years, but one analyst thinks that the company's recent purchase of a U.K.-firm may give it an entry.

Apple quietly acquired the technology and intellectual property of Proximity Corp. earlier this week.

The acquisition price wasn't disclosed and aside from a short statement on the Proximity site there's little information on it. Proximity makes workflow management software called Artbox for video editors and producers.

On its Web site, Proximity said:

"We are pleased to announce that all Proximity technology and intellectual property, including artbox workgroup and artbox enterprise, was recently acquired by Apple."

So what? Jonathan Hoopes, an analyst at ThinkEquity writes in a research note that the deal could give Apple more play in the enterprise space, which consists of companies with lots of creative types. Hoopes argues: "Proximity Corp. has become the industry standard for rich media asset management (RMAM) and workflow asset management (WAM) for creative professionals. We estimate that creative professionals comprise approximately 3 million to 5 million users out of Apple's 20+ million Mac OS X active user-base. It is from this creative pro user base (further bolstered by Proximity's technology) that we expect Apple to make a stronger push into the enterprise."

Meanwhile, the acquisition could ultimately spark an upgrade cycle among creative pros, which Hoopes says have been slow to upgrade to Apple's new Intel-based products. These users are waiting for complete software updates such as the Leopard OS X release in the summer of 2007.

To be sure, Apple's trial balloons in the enterprise are small potatoes compared to iPod sales and chatter about an upcoming iPhone. (Prudential is projecting 7 million iPhone units to be shipped in calendar year 2007).

But if you combine Proximity with Boot Camp, which allows users to boot Windows XP or OS X, and the Xserve server line it's clear that Apple has at least a little enterprise mojo. There's potential as long as typical Office corporate docs can be shared between PCs and Macs.

Of course, whatever Apple does in the enterprise will be overshadowed by the latest iPod, iPhone and iTV, but it's worth watching.

Topics: Apple


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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