'A full-scale switch to Macs is laughable'

Best of Reader Comments: Is Apple fit for business? The battle rages on

Best of Reader Comments: Is Apple fit for business? The battle rages on

Is Apple fit for business? CIOs say no, but silicon.com's readers remain divided.

While Mac user figures continue to inch upwards, businesses are still resisting Apple's charms.

In a recent silicon.com CIO Jury, just one of the IT chiefs surveyed said the recent release of Snow Leopard will make their business more likely to adopt Apple desktops, while other CIOs outlined to silicon.com why they believe Mac OS X isn't floating the enterprise boat.

silicon.com readers weighed in on the points raised by the CIOs, raising questions over whether the Apple ecosystem is sufficiently diverse for the enterprise.

Reader and embedded Linux developer, S Macdonald, asked: "How about companies not wanting to be tied to a single supplier of their computer technology? Can't really get competing bids from Apple against Apple."

However, it was the question of price that got most readers talking, with a number echoing CIOs' sentiments that the costs associated with switching from PC to Mac are simply too high.

Despite saying Macs are "so much better" than their Windows counterparts, one reader maintained cost remains a barrier to companies seeking to adopt Apple: "I love my Mac. It has changed the way I work but I am a one-man band. Changing a huge company would just cost so much," Galvin Green said.

"The cost is huge. You have to repurchase every copy of Office, and what about those productivity applications that don't have a Mac equivalent? The majority of businesses have at least one if not multiple apps like that. The upfront cost of purchasing Macs vs equivalent PCs is huge," said an Atlanta reader. "The question is what would the payback for doing all this be? Would the ROI be worth it?"

Another reader, an IT worker with the nom de plume of Realist, added: "The idea that a full-scale switch is even possible is laughable. Our CIO asked about the proposition and our response was 'If all the expenses you know about don't bother you, keep in mind that we have over 1,500 business critical applications in use, and just under 200 of those are web-based or otherwise cross platform'."

Other silicon.com readers, however, refuted the arguments over cost, saying Mac environments are not as expensive as they have been painted.

"Costs are often cited in these discussions and the arguments are often specious. It is difficult to determine whether the Macintosh platform would be more expensive than Windows because most IT departments and companies have no idea how much Windows is costing them in lost productivity, excessive training costs, costs due to lost data or compromised data because of the faulty/nearly-non-existent Windows security model, and so on", according to reader B Scott Andersen, a software engineer.

Another reader, an iPhone and Mac app developer from San Francisco, added: "Years and years ago it was demonstrated that it costs no more to support a heterogeneous environment of Macs and PCs than it does to support a PC-only environment (and, by the way, it was cheaper to support a Mac-only environment), and by this time that can only be an easier to demonstrate proposition."

Apple Mac Snow Leopard

Mac vs PC - the battle rages on (photo credit: Jason Parker/CNET)

Some claimed the Mac-phobia was really a way to save IT jobs.

"'Prohibitive upfront costs' - rubbish. The number one reason office IT directors do not upgrade to Macs is because they know which side their bread is buttered on - most workplaces I've seen that run on Macs don't require around-the-clock IT support like Windows ones - an onsite consultant a few times a week is enough, and most simple questions can be answered by email support. IT guys are not about to do themselves out of a job," said a reader from Australia.

"Seems to me that a lot less tech support staff would be required if businesses switched over to the Mac OS so the switch is not so much a matter of initial cost but the loss of jobs in the IT department," a tech support worker from Los Angeles added.

What do you think about the Mac vs PC debate? Let us know by posting a reader comment below.