Keeping It Simple Should Win Apple Some SMB Love

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SMBs generally like to keep their IT as simple as possible. Simplicity is something not easily offered by Microsoft and other big software vendors. And this could create a real market opening for Apple.


We've blogged about this previously, both from a hardware and a software standpoint. In the latter blog, we linked to a Datamation article by John Welch that touted the simplicity -- and thus the SMB appeal -- of Apple's iWork productivity suite.


Now Welch has penned an InformationWeek article that makes a broader, and pretty darn compelling case, for Apple. Simplicity is Apple's mantra, whether it's eliminating keyboards on devices like phones or offering a streamlined list of hardware options.


As Welch notes, Apple offers just three desktop computers and two laptops -- compared to Dell, say, with its six lines of desktops and five lines of desktops. (Dell recently introduced the Vostro, a machine specifically geared to SMBs, which earned a lackluster review from PCWorld.com.)


An optional RAID card for Apple's top-of-the-line Mac Pro essentially enables it to function as a server, an appealing option for many SMBs, says Welch.


Wouldn't SMBs welcome more choices? Maybe, says Welch, but they are likely to be more interested in "being able to buy hardware and software without a degree in vendor negotiation."


The argument becomes even clearer when considering the operating system. Apple offers just three licensing options for its Mac OS X. Contrast this to the six variants of Windows Vista, which many tech pubs felt compelled to explain with "which version is right for you" articles.


With the Mac OS, says Welch, "You won't need to spend time with version matrices, comparing lists of features to figure out what you need. Three options, clearly named, ready to be bought."


An even more important difference, says Welch, is that the Mac OS X and the forthcoming Leopard OS are built on open standards, which gives companies a wider variety of client and server options and the ability to more easily switch solutions.

If your business processes are centered on products that are based on open standards, then your ability to change products as needed is simpler, and cheaper, than if you're going proprietary to open or worse, proprietary to different proprietary.

While Apple doesn't have its own versions of many common enterprise applications like ERP, it does have what Welch calls "a plethora of open source resources" that make it simple to choose from a variety of third-party options.