Why Apple Wants Microsoft To Dominate The Enterprise



Some arguments about Apple never seem die despite the fact that reality has moved on. Arguments like the Mac not being compatible with Windows file sharing or disk formats and that all Apple products being inherently more expensive than any competitors. This morning, Computerworld’s Preston Gralla pulled several of these outdated arguments together to support his opinion that Apple would never unseat Microsoft in the enterprise.

Virtually every argument in this piece is easy to debunk with facts. What’s more important than responding to these outdated myths, however, is realizing that Apple doesn’t want to unseat Microsoft from its current place in the enterprise. Microsoft is actually doing a lot of enterprise heavy lifting for Apple.

Apple is enjoying unprecedented success in business and enterprise environments today. As I’ve said recently (both here at Cult of Mac and at Computerworld), the company has spent the past couple of years slowly shifting its enterprise strategy. It isn’t trying to dominate in business the way that Microsoft does. In fact, I’m quite sure Apple is happy to let Microsoft stay firmly planted in large tracts of enterprise real estate – particularly the real estate in the server closets and data centers.

Apple spent much of the last decade trying to get its enterprise-grade solutions into enterprise environments and data centers. Then Apple execs woke up, realized they could make more money selling iPhones, iPads, and Macs to business users just like they do to everyone else and let Microsoft and other companies do the heavy lifting. The company ditched its enterprise hardware, which never saw anything like the profit margins that it enjoys on its mass market products, and focused on making its platforms as enterprise friendly as possible… and has been laughing all the way to the bank.

Apple makes its money on hardware sales. So long its hardware and its OSes can integrate with Windows Server, Active Directory, Exchange, and other Unix and Linux platforms, Apple can sell to the enterprise market. As long as it focuses on making great products that work in business and have an app ecosystem that helps workers get their best work done faster, easier, and with fewer headaches, Apple doesn’t need to dominate the bulk of the enterprise… it just needs to be able to communicate with it.

Apple has even created a sizable cottage industry of providers that help enterprises integrate Apple’s Macs and iOS devices into their existing infrastructure. This means that businesses get a range of products with different price points and features. That helps each company select the best options for its needs and budget for integration, deployment, and ongoing management  (which can include or be limited to Apple’s free built-in Active Directory and Exchange support). This approach has created a plethora of choices well beyond what Apple could produce on its own. The results are increased business sales for Apple with other companies providing top notch support.

In short, Apple has no interest in becoming the enterprise top dog. Apple would much rather let Microsoft have that role and focus on delivering the best products it can to business users. That seems to working out pretty well for Apple and for business users.

As to debunking Preston Gralla – Apple does have enterprise sales and support teams and its sales to businesses are rarely “clandestine”; ultrabooks can barely compete with MacBook Air on price and may need help to undercut it; Windows 8 adoption as a whole isn’t guaranteed in an immediate time frame; WOA tablets may have Office but they also don’t have mature app ecosystems; Apple has an active cadre of enterprise deployment and management vendors; and many cloud services are largely platform agnostic.

  • Gerry Doire

    Great article, I love the facts!

  • techgeek01

    Microsoft “dominates” enterprise.

    Which translates that the “best” machines for enterprise would be windows powered machines.

    Which translates that the “best” machines for work will be windows powered machines.

    Apple dosen’t “care” about enterprise, they won’t get into enterprise/business.  Or if there are better solutions that come around, will end up replacing those Apple products.

    The point being, if you are not catering to the business/enterprise world/user (in hardware/software/services/etc…) your product’s won’t stay.  And if they do go in, they will end up being replaced when a better products comes around or when people realize that they can’t do x or y.

    When windows 8 tablets come out, why deploy iPads?  The iPads WON’T have the integration with the network that windows 8 tablets will have. WON’T have  the security as windows 8 tablets, if you want to put your own apps and such onto your iPads, you will have to buy a Mac.

    Why pick up a iPhone when (supposedly) windows phones 8 will have far better integration with windows 8/network and have far better security than they do now?

    Why deploy Apple TVs (boxes or actual TVs) when you could put an xBox 720 under your projector/display and have complete integration with your windows phones/tablets/computers?

    And when Microsoft is THE enterprise software, why bother using OSX/iOS when you are pretty much 100% compatible with all the other businesses when running Windows?

    When your main network is Windows, the “best” devices to connect to it will be windows powered devices.  And domino effect.

    And the final thing is:  If Apple does not have “business” grade software/hardware/services, what does that say to me (the business)?  It says: “I don’t give a rat’s ass about you.”  So, why go with a company that WON’T give/provide me with what I need?  You DON’T go to a Ferrari dealership to pick up a vehicle that you need to carry all your tools in.  You go to Ford/Dodge/GM/etc… WHO CATER to people like you.  And this is EXACTLY the same thing in the “tech world”.  You go with people WHO CATER to people like you.  And if there isn’t one, you go with what’s the best out there currently and switch when someone does come along.

    Apple dosen’t want Microsoft to dominate Enterprise, because that means people will pick up the best machines, which will be window powered devices, not Apple powered devices. 

  • Trisjen1983

    Apple is scared of Google!! That’s why.

  • Bridger Lowe

    You are such a troll. Why not go to Cult of Android?

  • vanmacguy

    Personally, I don’t think it matters at all what Microsoft or Apple wants. Users are voting with purchases (sometimes their own) and Apple are making headway into the enterprise market. 

    Whether they want to or had planned to, it not in question in my mind. Yeah, Apple are not set up for the low margins that go along with the Enterprise but Apple products are still making their way in.

    So I don’t believe they will ever take control of that market and I’m just fine with that. Lion server can’t scale like Windows server can, never mind Exchange. OSX Server is great for a small to midsize company, but as a professional SysAdmin, I wouldn’t dream of putting it in a large organization.

  • Shaun Green

    I think Apple’s strategy is to cede the enterprise hub (server and backbone network) to Microsoft and then let Mac/iOS products sit as simple devices on that network. Server prices have fallen dramatically over the past few years for SME’s. Apple was never going to make 40% margin and sell many servers anyway so this strategy makes sense.

    Eventually there might not be any server sales anyway as more companies migrate to cloud based networking to save money and reduce complexity.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    Microsoft would never be that generous as to ALLOW Apple have anything.  They’d continue to eat up everything and keep Apple down and out if they had the chance because that’s the Microsoft way.  Kill off all competition by force.  I wonder if Apple shouldn’t be a little more greedy and give Microsoft a bit of a fright.  All Microsoft ever bragged about was having 90%+ market share all these years and is now trying to cut into Apple’s tablet business with their own Windows on ARM initiative.  I don’t see Microsoft ceding anything to Apple at all.   Apple could theoretically make some enterprise server acquisition, but I don’t see that happening either.

    It’s just that if Apple gives Microsoft too much leeway, Apple will get stabbed in the back and then it’s going to be greedy Windows domination forever.  All I’m looking for is for Apple get get at least a 30% to 40% enterprise penetration.  I don’t think that’s asking for too much to balance out some of the corporate cash flow.  Microsoft shouldn’t need it all, since the company is already very successful in corporate, desktop and gaming.

  • ??nD ??os??A

    Apple doesn’t care about Microsoft in the enterprise, because Microsoft is going to loose the enterprise to the cloud in the next 5 years anyway.  Most enterprises don’t need a computer for 80% of their employees.  They just need a device that can access the corporate databases and systems.  We will look back in 20 years and think of every employee having a computer on their desk as about as odd as employees smoking in the building. 
    Amazon, Google, Netsuite, Salesforce.com and a bazillion other cloud providers are going drive computing for the next 10 years.  And Apple is set to win all that cloud client business PLUS (if the don’t f up iCloud like MobileMe) Apple will be the cloud service provider AND device provider for the consumer market. 
    The only people that really need full blown “PC” functions are engineers, graphics intense workers, and a few other classes of folks.  Given the right apps and infrastructure most companies could get away with providing only iPads to their entire sales force.  That’s 25% of IT spending right there…because remote support for sales guys is a big pain for corporate IT.

  • robgilgan

    I find it odd that anyone would go to the trouble of writing about Preston Gralla spew. He has to be one of the least credible IT industry pundits.

  • Shameer Mulji


  • imajoebob

    Do you even understand what ‘Enterprise” means?

  • morgan3nelson

    Um, “Eventually there might not be any server sales anyway as more companies migrate to cloud”?????  what do you think the “Cloud” runs on – Cheeto’s?  There will always be a demand for on-premise data centers, the Cloud is insecure, unreliable and immature.  It does SOME things well – but it will be a VERY long time before Fortune 500 companies trust their financials in the Cloud.

  • morgan3nelson

    Everyone should be afraid of Google – Google is EVIL and determined to saddle us ALL with half-assed products burdened with crappy OS’ and applications that are lousy imitations of REAL QUALITY products.  FEAR FREE, FEAR CHEAP, FEAR GOOGLE – the K-Martization of technology is their goal – CHEAP SHIT for EVERYONE! 

  • morgan3nelson

    Keep buying Microsoft – it is designed for DRONES and ROBOTS.

  • FalKirk

    “…the “best” machines for enterprise would be windows powered machines.”-techgeek01

    You do know that Macs run Windows, right?

    “The point being, if you are not catering to the business/enterprise world/user (in hardware/software/services/etc…) your product’s won’t stay.”-techgeek01

    Hmm, may I refer you to the tens of millions of iPhones and iPads in business today along with the concept of the “consumerization of IT”? Google it. You might learn something.

    “When windows 8 tablets come out, why deploy iPads?””-techgeek01

    Because they have the best hardware and the best ecosystem and the lowest price?

    “The iPads WON’T have the integration with the network that windows 8 tablets will have.”- “-techgeek01

    What integration are you referring too?

    “WON’T have  the security as windows 8 tablets…”-“-techgeek01

    What security problems are you referring to?

    “…if you want to put your own apps and such onto your iPads, you will have to buy a Mac.”-“-techgeek01

    Say what? You do know that iPads work with PCs or even stand alone, right?

    “And when Microsoft is THE enterprise software, why bother using OSX/iOS when you are pretty much 100% compatible with all the other businesses when running Windows?”-“-techgeek01

    Existing Windows software will not run on WOA and any WOA software will have to be created from scratch.

    It sounds to me like you don’t know what you’re talking about but you’re more than willing to talk about it anyway. Next time, read up on the subject at hand before you comment.

  • Jenny Lee

    All that to say Apple sucks! Where is the cult of Microsoft? (Last updated circa 2006).

    The problem is windows 8 tablet & Xbox 720 is still in development, rumor, TBA, and/ or still in the thought process. If I can’t physically hold it, play and test it out. Whatever you just claimed is strictly rumor, like all the other rumors about future products.
    In terms of security, doesn’t matter what OS the server, enterprise, and cloud is on. Everything in one way or another is vulnerable to attacks. To deem Microsoft as having more protection than the rest of the competition, is strictly a TROLL answer. Read a Dummy book on enterprise, you might learn something!Currently, it’s not Apple catering to the business consumer, but the software that supports Apple’s IOS App Store ecosystem that caters to the business consumer. Most people just buy what is easy to use, what has the cool apps, what makes the most profit, and what app developers use as the easiest solution to produce the app on. Combine that with Apple’s R&D and unparalleled distribution system, I don’t foresee anytime in the near future when Microsoft will regain the what they already had.

  • Dillon Schultz

    get ’em!

  • Al

    “what do you think the “Cloud” runs on – Cheeto’s?”
    Nonsense. Everyone knows the cloud runs on Doritos.

  • Aaron

    Apple is scared of Google AND Google is scared of Apple. It’s mutual. This is what gets both companies to work harder to improve their products. That’s how competition works.

  • Aaron

    Heh! Yeah, when was the last time you saw a Microsoft Logo sticker in someone’s back window? Never? About an Apple Logo sticker? Probably several times a day.

  • Shaun Green

    I was talking about servers and networks for SME’s. Of course you will still have enterprise servers for large corporations or internet based operations. But Apple was never in that space anyway. You are mixing up two quite seperate things.

    If you work in the IT industry like I do you get to read about more and more companies either outsourcing their IT or moving to the cloud. There is really no need for many companies to host their own servers when you can use cloud based applications like salesforce.com and save money.

    However the cloud doesn’t live in fantasy land. It resides on server farms and data centres. As for your premise that cloud computing is “insecure, unrelaible and immature” frankly that is just laughable and shows your ignorance of the matter. Do you use internet banking? You think you’re local branch holds the info there or in a centralised data server? Do you use an internet based email service like hotmail? Where do you think that is? Many people already use cloud based applications without knowing it.