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Innovation

Do we want Mac in the enterprise when we have Linux?

Apple has done such an incredibly nice job moving into the world of consumer electronics that I say, "Let them stay there!"
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

Larry Dignan recently posted a piece on Mac in the enterprise (The eternal question: Can Apple go enterprise?). I think a better question is actually why we would want Apple to bother with the enterprise when we have Linux? This assumes, of course, that you're in the market for a Windows alternative. However, Apple has done such an incredibly nice job moving into the world of consumer electronics that I say, "Let them stay there!"

As Larry points out, outside of Apple's identified business markets (i.e., content creation), they have largely abandoned any effort to penetrate the enterprise. Linux, on the other hand, has evolved to such an extent that there are a lot of places where it could be really successful in enterprise markets (and certainly already is in the server room).  XP and Vista are great, too, with certain caveats and obviously dominate the enterprise (for a variety of reasons, both good and bad). 

The ability to purchase what is now considered entry-level hardware (since any single processors now seem to fall into that category) at rock bottom prices just makes it hard to stomach Apple's premium hardware/premium prices approach.  While it's true that Apple's prices are competitive with comparably equipped Wintel PCs, so many users at the enterprise level simply don't need dual core power.  A plain old P4 can do the job quite nicely.  A reader recently asked if we were going to be doomed to Windows forever.  The answer is probably not, but Apple is not the only alternative.  Quite frankly, at this entry level, where the majority of our users reside, Linux looks remarkably attractive.  Not only is it free, but it provides basic office productivity as well or better than Windows.  While companies and schools may make a business decision to stick with Windows (existing platform investments, skills of support staff, etc.),  if you and your users are looking around, it seems pretty utterly unnecessary to buy hardware capable of advanced video editing and really impressive content creation just to avoid Windows.

How many flavors of Linux are there now?  A lot?  And certainly several mainstream choices with lots of developer support, drivers, and great software.  The various 'buntus, SUSE, Fedora, etc., all handle security nicely, look pretty Windows-like if you want them to, and run quite well on very reasonable modern hardware.  Open Office rocks and talks quite well with Microsoft apps.  And it's free.  And runs on cheap hardware.  So why buy an Apple for your mainstream users?  They're very pretty, I'll give them that.  I just don't see them taking off in the enterprise unless Apple can address the overkill issue.

Please folks, before you start ranting, keep in mind that I'm not Mac-bashing by any means.  However, outside of specialty applications, I really don't see a reason to try and bring Apple into any enterprise.  I'm giving serious thought to buying a Mac mini for my kids after setting up a small Mac lab at my school (Should I have bought those Macs?) because they really are remarkably cool and do some amazing stuff out of the box.  I just don't need computers that do really amazing stuff out of the box for 95 percent of my users.  There are some compelling reasons to look outside the Windows box, but I don't see myself looking inside Apple's box if I leave the Windows camp.  I may have to go sneak into my new lab though and break out Garage Band this weekend.

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