There once was a time, way back in the day, back to the last century and the early years of the 21st century, when Apple was an afterthought in the enterprise, the lonely corporate cousin to Windows PCs.
That was back in the time when the Mac was synonymous with Apple. The Mac was the flagship product. When you said Apple you meant Mac. Sure, businesses used Macs occasionally. Media companies loved Macs. Graphic designers, too. Think Different™ was all the rage and established Apple and the Mac as the platform for the crazy ones. These days Apple rocks in the enterprise, and corporate executives have iPhones, iPads, and, yes, Macs– in greater numbers than ever and exactly at the time Windows PCs have begun to fade into oblivion (or somewhere nearby, but out of sight and out of favor).
What happened? How did Apple and the Mac go from being part of the misfit crowd of crazies to mainstream corporate America? IBM has embraced the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. What does that say? How did that happen?
Let’s call it the iPhone effect.
When Apple launched the iPhone in mid-2007 a revolution was born. Within a few years everyone wanted an iPhone, and that included corporate executives and managers who absolutely hated their BlackBerry’s and Windows Phones and loved using the iPhone. Enterprise and business IT groups were forced into the mode of supporting devices that executives and managers and employees wanted to use versus forcing them to use what IT wanted to support.
See the difference? That was just the beginning.
Since the iPhone debuted Apple has done everything that corporations want from hardware and software vendors. iOS and macOS get upgraded every year and are more secure than Android smartphones and Windows PCs. Both require less support, less maintenance, and come with more predictability, which businesses love.
You see where this is going, right?
From early on, Apple made the iPhone and iPad usable, accessible, and compatible. Employees loved to use the devices. Corporations could install their own applications with ease. And iOS was a good enterprise and Exchange citizen for email and other corporate functions.
Meanwhile, users hated using Windows, and since employees could see fellow employees enjoying life with a Mac, Mac sales began to rise, still at record levels, despite Windows PCs heading toward ever dropping sales thresholds. A few year ago IBM went all in on Mac, iPhone, and iPad by letting employees choose to use Macs, and by creating custom applications for iPhone and iPad for their own customers.
Yes, total cost of ownership is a thing. IBM found they saved hundreds of dollars on Mac users vs. Windows PC users, for support, training, installation, et al. Generally speaking, Apple’s devices are easier to set up and use, easier to manage and support, offer more security, and a longer life cycle than comparable Android and Windows devices with lower price tags.
This all started with the iPhone because employees wanted to use a product they could actually use and enjoy. Steve Jobs hated the enterprise market but catered to it with iPhone 4.
What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves. They go ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and if enough of them say ‘yes,’ we get to come to work tomorrow. That’s how it works. It’s really simple. With the enterprise market, it’s not so simple. The people that use the products don’t decide for themselves, and the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused. We love just trying to make the best products in the world for people and having them tell us by how they vote with their wallets whether we’re on track or not.
In other words, Apple made a product so good that it changed how business and enterprise handled technology. It became customer and user first, vs. IT group support policies. That was a revolutionary change.