How Apple Is Quietly Taking the Enterprise from Dell and HP

Rob Enderle

Years ago, I watched as Research in Motion moved into the enterprise market using a unique path. It started at the top with CXOs and board members and drove down into the enterprise rather than the traditional path of trying to sell initially to IT. Eventually, it partnered with IT companies and then went after IT directly, but its initial success came from focusing on the very top of the company and now is the most successful enterprise smartphone vendor.


Based on a Frost & Sullivan report being covered over on CTO Edge by Charlene O'Hanlon, Apple is moving into the enterprise in a way that is both similar and different. And the stats indicate that Apple should grow faster in the enterprise than either HP or Dell can. It's not only starting at the top, but also ignoring IT entirely. The executive influencers love this path, which creates risks for both IT and for the enterprise vendors that dominate this market. Recall that Apple actually is the most profitable company in the segment and that its CEO was CEO of the decade last year. There clearly is a message from these results: that user focus, rather than institutional and price focus, is the more profitable/successful path.


This also supports the notion that vertical integration might pay better dividends than the shared platform model that dominates the PC space in the enterprise. Let's explore this.


What Makes Apple Different


Apple builds hardware in a similar fashion to the other vendors, but focuses almost exclusively on premium-priced offerings. It takes UNIX and builds its own interface on top of it to assure the user experience is both unique and high quality, it outspends (as a percentage) the segment on marketing, staffs with marketing experts and enjoys supporters/advocates that are unmatched in the industry.


Apple not only doesn't worry about IT, it ignores IT. This has resulted in lousy performance with servers but has clearly paid dividends for market growth and profitability last year. It is interesting to note that the Frost & Sullivan survey on the second slide places quality, reliability and performance at the top of the selection criteria and design at the bottom for this CXO group that Apple seems to increasingly dominate. It is actually the vertical integration and separation from Windows, not the hardware design, that is driving the favorable opinion and success.


On the fourth slide, Dell clearly dominates the market in use, but Apple dominates in desirability, suggesting that long term Apple should grow to challenge Dell across the enterprise much like it currently exceeds Dell at the top of the company. This doesn't appear to be from product experience, but on product perception, showcasing the strong dividends from Apple's marketing and advocacy efforts.


Next page: Coming Soon to an Enterprise Near You


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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 9, 2010 3:02 PM Frank Sudore Frank Sudore  says:

I am the IT manager of an all Apple Office from the servers to the phones. Apple could do more for support but these machines hardly hic up, and there are no virus licenses to keep up and JUST PLAIN WORK.

May cost more up front for the hardware, but you save in the long run.


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