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Survey: Macs to replace PCs in enterprise at "unprecedented rate"

Is Apple on the upswing in the enterprise? Some IT professionals think so based on a recent survey, saying Macs are safer and boost productivity while also cutting down on support costs.

Over the next three years, Apple's Mac hardware will make marked gains in the enterprise over Windows PCs say a group of IT pros.

That's the gist of a September 2015 survey created by JAMF Software, which released the results on Wednesday after speaking with Computerworld.

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Before we go any further, it's well worth noting that JAMF Software specially focuses on supporting Apple hardware and software in the enterprise. The company says it surveyed 500 IT professionals, managers and executives from various sized organizations worldwide.

It's not surprising then that most of those surveyed support Macs in their company: 96 percent said they do. That compares to 92 percent supporting PCs while 28 percent - more than I'd expect - have Chromebooks in their organizations.

Bear in mind too that "supporting" doesn't necessarily mean widespread deployment. Technically, if a company has one Mac laptop or desktop supported, it would count in this survey question as I see it.

When it comes to tablets, these same IT professionals lean heavily on the iPad in some way, shape or form. A total of 81 percent surveyed have iPads in house while 46 percent have Windows tablets and just over a third have Android slates in the mix.

Pure device numbers aside, it's more important to see why those surveyed think the Mac is on the upswing in the enterprise: If they have valid reasons, they may be on to something.

Roughly half of the respondents cite increased productivity while nearly a third touted less maintenance. The latter point jives with recent data from IBM, which says it saves $270 yearly on support costs for each user that works on a Mac; the company is moving forward by deploying more Macs for that and other reasons, to the tune of 1,900 new Macs weekly. IBM says its support staff for the 130,000 Mac and iOS products used in house is just 24 people.

Another big reason for the potential rise of Macs in the workplace? Security, says the survey participants; 75 percent of which consider Mac OS X more secure that other platforms.

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Although it's not mentioned in the survey, I'd add another reason: The ability to run Microsoft Windows on Apple hardware, which can't be done in reverse.

Buying a Mac system provides that option so that those who want or need to run Windows can do so - either at time of boot or through a virtual machine - which provides an enterprise with far more flexibility.

And that option can be had for less money: Why buy two computers when you can buy one that runs a pair of enterprise platforms?

Again, you have to keep some perspective when considering JAMF's survey results given its Apple-centric business.

Still, there might be some good nuggets of information to help IT make future depictions within the results. And in three years, we can always look at sales data to see how many of the surveyed IT pros were actually right about Macs eating into enterprise PC share.