For those of you who have been wondering about Apple's plans for the enterprise over the past few years, it seems that a definitive answer is finally here. As painful as this may be to the IT community, which is accustomed to being the center of the digital universe: Apple neither needs nor cares about the enterprise because its strategy transcends such petty notions as work and play.
What it does care about is keeping users safely cocooned on the Apple universe, so that no matter where they are or what they're doing, they rely on some combination of Apple hardware and/or software.
How else to explain the virtual lack of attention paid to traditional enterprise systems like the Mac and XServer in favor of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad? As CNet's Gordon Haff puts it, this is Apple looking to draw business users to its way of thinking, rather than trying to cater to their own perceived needs or wants. A typical IT vendor would devise a new server or desktop that is supposedly better than all the other servers and desktops on the market. Apple tosses out an entirely new form of mobile computing, and if enterprise decision-makers don't fully understand its implications, consumers do. And it's a good bet that a large chunk of those consumers are enterprise workers who will find ways to incorporate their new gadgets into their workday -- whether the higher-ups are willing or not.
This is also the reason why you rarely see an Apple product loaded with umpteen features right off the bat, according to Computerworld's John Gruber. They'd much rather issue a simplified product at first, draw as much entry-level market share as possible, and then quietly add features with each subsequent generation. Not enough to make a really big splash each time, mind you, but just enough to ratchet up its usefulness until it becomes essential for both work and play.
And taking its lesson learned from Microsoft in the 1980s that software is more important than hardware, Apple is still willing to pour resources into the OS X operating system. As author Erik Eckel points out, Snow Leopard outclasses Windows in three key areas -- overall cost, security and performance -- making it easier for enterprises to introduce Apple infrastructure to better accommodate new legions of i-whatever users.
So before you get caught up in another debate over Mac vs. PC in the enterprise, accompanied by the usual laments over Apple's lack of an enterprise strategy, know this: The way Apple is positioned in the market right now, it doesn't really need one.