Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

Summary: iMessage could be a Microsoft and BlackBerry killer. But is this a pie in the sky idea?

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Mulling over the WWDC announcements it struck me that Apple might just have launched a Trojan Horse into the enterprise, effectively striking out at both BlackBerry and Microsoft with a single shot.

On BlackBerry, Larry Dignan argues:

Apple touted its iMessage, a system that allows anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch send unlimited free text messages to another iOS device. Apple’s iMessage is a direct assault on BBM, which is arguably RIM’s most marketable item.

I don't disagree. There are only three reasons I am hanging onto BlackBerry and even then by a slim thread:

  1. Battery life - way better than other smartphones in my experience
  2. Speed - BlackBerry is fast
  3. Consolidated messaging via BBM - one screen, all messages.

Everything else about BB pretty much sux, especially the apps and if it wasn't for those three factors above, I'd be on iPhone only (or possibly Android) in a heartbeat.

On the Microsoft front, Apple's ability to synch any i-related device and for free must be an ominous sign for Exchange. Perhaps that's putting it a little too strongly but I am increasingly seeing small businesses switch to iPhone and quietly retiring BlackBerry. Auto synching to any device has surely got to be attractive, as has the ability to share any message with colleagues/friends/relatives. Goodbye cc/Bcc?

It's not so long ago that Apple's premium pricing on laptops in particular was thought to exclude the prospect of a wholesale change away from Windows based machines. However the fact I see iPad as the de facto executive device of choice implies that money can be found where a device offers perceived superior value. And as we see more applications move to the cloud, where does Microsoft continue to find relevance in the business?

Is it that much of a stretch to imagine those same businesses pulling the plug on their Office Productivity suite apps? After all, a single throat to choke and standardised admin are often cited as reasons why IT shops want to streamline suppliers. And for smaller businesses, eliminating IT admin is a highly attractive proposition.

You'd be hard pressed to prise Excel away from the accounting types but with more analytic related functions being shoehorned into applications, the storm clouds appear to be gathering.

Am I reading too much into this or are we finally seeing Apple get serious about an enterprise play, providing irresistible functionality that makes its selection a no brainer? Right now, nothing would surprise me.

More WWDC Coverage:

ZDNet:

CNet News:

Galleries Mac OS X Lion roarsA look at iOS 5 Gallery: Apple’s WWDC 2011

TechRepublic: Apple’s next frontier: Your data

BNET: WWDC: Apple Blows an Opportunity To Change the World

Topics: Hardware, Data Centers, Hewlett-Packard, Storage

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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75 comments
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  • The Pride of Apple

    I think Apple could take the Enterprise by storm, but as we know they refuse to cowtow to requests at all. As such, I think they will have a great opportunity to kick Microsoft out of some small enterprises, but the big ones who think they need to customize everything won't be swayed for quite a while.
    Jamie Oswald
    • Enterprise is over-rated.

      Yeah, you can grab the big contract, but the discounts and cost of sales in doing so cut your margins razor thin. Look at it this way: MS with well over 90% of the market in enterprise now generates less revenue than Apple with probably less then 5% presence in Enterprise.
      fr_gough
      • Steven Jobs tried enterprise market from 1986-1996 and he ended up hating

        @fr_gough: ... it with passion since his innovative NextStep OS (first commercial advanced object-oriented platform) was stuck in bureaucratism of corporations -- even which are about IT themselves.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @fr_gough
        By its very nature, the consumer market is larger than the enterprise. However, the bigger picture you seem to be missing is accounting and what all these numbers actually mean. Step back a bit, look at the reporting done at the different companies, calculate the real numbers and then make an assessment. Margins in the enterprise are obscene in service, slight in software. However, there's pad in everything. You're honestly going to tell me you believe that 20 of the Fortune 50 never make a profit? Get with the program.
        Ternarybit
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @DeRSSS: Um... Sorry. No he didn't. He wasn't <i>with</i> Apple between 1986 and 1996 until Apple bought his NeXt company and brought him back in. By then, the three former CEOs had done all the damage they could to the company.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @fr_gough
        bleesoy@...
      • s like

        @fr_gough
        bleesoy@...
    • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

      @Jamie Oswald Apple doesn't have any offerings for enterprises (outside of exchange compatibility).

      Exchange functionality was never that great, and is in iCloud already - but Apple isn't going to give you the servers to run your own iCloud and for that reason businesses that want to control their own data can't use it.

      I work for a large corporation now (company got acquired) and it's amazing how inefficient their IT is. It's so inefficient they lose thousands of man hours every year on it. But they trudge on, and they control their own data, and they make it all reasonably secure.

      In order for such a business to switch to Macs, there'd have to be a vendor who offers a complete solution for all these shitty corporate apps and whatnot. Apple is clearly not interested - too busy dominating the rest of the world.
      orthorim
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @orthorim That said... one ominous sign is corporate apps - Apple has made it very easy, and very secure, to deploy corporate apps on iOS devices. It's actually a model implementation, and leaps and bounds better than anything available on the PC or Mac.

        Corporate IT has complete control over all their iDevices. They can remote wipe them, they control apps that go on them, and they can push new corporate apps onto them and they can be sure those can't be used by anyone else. It's pretty tight.
        orthorim
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @orthorim
        You might want to look at Apple's site for OS X Lion Server - $49 this July. Supports all of the iCal/mail/file sharing of the iCloud in an enterprise package.
        TechMeUp
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @orthorim - maybe so but those millions of small businesses must look awfully tempting
        dahowlett
      • &quot;millions of small businesses must look awfully tempting&quot;

        @dahowlett That's surely the only part of the "enterprise" that Apple is really interested in. Apple tried the whole VAR/sales channel/Enterprise account years ago, and it was awful. The margins are crappy, the sales cycle is a pain, and big clients/vendors like to have clear roadmaps on future products, which is absolutely anathema to Apple.

        Apple isn't totally ambivalent to the enterprise. They just see it as another consumer. They aren't going to change what they envision for their products for them any more than any other consumer. Apple's philosophy is that "if we make it [better, easier, cooler, more attractive], they will come." Regardless of who "they" are.
        matthew_maurice
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @orthorim Do you need a cigarette? geez!

        Think about this as an issue as well, many large companies are running XP not because it is stable, but because it supports their legacy systems.

        Apple knows that is a nightmare scenario to try to take that place.

        The future is mobile/virtual/cloud.

        Both companies, along with Google will all co-exist. Corporate investment in certain technologies is strategic, not tactical.

        Phones allow tactical 'fad' decisions. CTO's are not going to drop their infrastructure to make sure everyone can sync their sms messaging (which some companies frown on anyways).

        I think the comment about apple not wanting to take the $$ hit (evil Empire anyone?) is closer to the truth.

        Additionally, businesses are needy, and frankly Steve is lacking on people skills.
        QAonCall
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @orthorim
        App-V frags apple's cloud distribution model in that respect, and apple doesn't have any applications that even begin to touch Microsoft's productivity applications. All the fancy UI in the world doesn't make up for the lack of control, centralized manageability and efficient server technologies.
        Ternarybit
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @QAonCall [i]I think the comment about apple not wanting to take the $$ hit (evil Empire anyone?) is closer to the truth.[/i]
        Let me get this straight, you think Apple is an evil Empire because they don't want to take a financial hit? What an idiotic statement!
        non-biased
    • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

      @Jamie Oswald

      What are you on about? Apple dont have an enterprise level product in the iphone and ipad. Ours end up running secure apps and need secure passwords at umpteen levels. Great for consumers but pants for true enterprise users. Sadly too many folk in management see email as the only tool they need and figure thats all the rest of us need.... but it aint.

      Both mine sit in my bag, SIM less, for testing only. RIM still have a decent enterprise product in the BB Torch (though the rest is largely useless for WEB stuff). Personally I'd ask RIM to ditch the plethora of devices, go down the Torch route and have a few decent models that are supportable going forward in time. Secure, 1 password gets me everything, 2 days battery life of heavy phone use, real keyboard for use in the back of taxis (you try using a touch screen keyboard going over bumps).

      I've said it before. Too many folk are too quick to believe that Apple are great for everything. Yes the ipad and iphone are great consumer devices but there is other kit out there. Asus Transformer is my tablet and it works for me, others will have different solutions for populating their media without needing to dock with an itunes PC/MAC. Think wider, out of the Apple box!
      johnmckay
      • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

        @GetReal-mac.com [i]I've said it before. Too many folk are too quick to believe that Apple are great for everything.[/i]
        Correct, Apple isn't great at everything but since you realize that you should also realize that the majority of business do not need the same "enterprise" level security and that is where Apple can really gain some ground.
        non-biased
  • RE: Did Apple launch an enterprise Trojan Horse?

    Dennis,

    I think this is when we find out whether or not Office365 is for real. But I would say that Microsoft's announcement at D9 that HMTL5 + JS is the primary dev environment for Windows 8 says a lot about how they're thinking about building and deploying apps and the importance of the cloud going forward. If I read that wrong and Ballmer says they'll have to "pry the current licensing model from his cold, dead hands", they have a problem for sure.

    Glenn
    ggruber66
    • The problem with MS's cloud strategy

      Is it won't support the margins theyve been getting from windows and office. It simply too competitive.
      Richard Flude
    • Not really

      @ggruber66
      That depends on all things being equal, and in the eneterprise a phone is a phone, usefull, but all the same. An iPhone or iPad is an accessory more then a necessity.

      The business tools are what the company uses day to day,
      and if the ROI in well worth it (which many have shown that it is) then the licensing model can be whatever they're worth.
      Will Pharaoh