Apple's enterprise strategy: Steady as consumerization goes

Apple will continue to ride consumerization to the enterprise. The iPhone and iPad will do well. The Mac won't, says an analyst.

Apple is likely to continue the consumerization dance as it applies to the enterprise, according to a leading Wall Street analyst.

Gene Munster, a Piper Jaffray analyst best known for his coverage of Apple, outlined 10 key themes for Apple over the next three years. Although Apple TV got the most attention, Munster also touched on the business tech strategy.

The biggest business tech takeaway in Munster's note was that Apple isn't likely to change its sales approach to the enterprise. And why should it? Apple has invaded the enterprise without even trying. Employees are bringing iPhones and iPads to work. And now corporations---those still handing out smartphones---are increasingly going with the iPhone.

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Munster's thoughts on the enterprise go like this.

We believe that Apple thinks about the consumer and enterprise opportunities as significantly different verticals. If Apple's intent was to dominate the enterprise markets, we believe the company would employ a meaningfully different sales and marketing strategy. However, we believe the company is focused on delivering the best consumer electronic products possible and therefore will rely on consumer adoption to drive enterprise adoption....We do not expect Apple to make any significant changes on how it addresses the enterprise opportunity, thus it may still be a moderate road to majority market share at the corporate level in phones and longer road in computers. While we expect future iPhone and iPad growth in the enterprise, we don’t expect the Mac to have the same enterprise success. One reason is for reliability purposes, most enterprises run on versions of Windows that are two generations old. Apple provides little support for past OS versions, making it more difficult for large businesses to standardize on Macs.

Boil that down and you have:

  • Windows owning enterprise PCs.
  • Apple taking tablets and smartphones via consumerization.
  • Tablets will take over PC unit sales by 2015, according to Munster.

The wild card to this equation will be how Windows 8 fares on tablets. Munster's comments on the Mac also make sense depending on the industry. The reality is that many corporations won't be able to keep up with Apple's OS changes and ability to ditch older products.

Munster noted that Apple takes a "heart transplant strategy" where it phases out older gear. Apple tries to eliminate older products as quickly as possible. That's great for Apple, but is the exact opposite of the enterprise approach. After all, companies are still running Windows XP.