My February, 2010 Montana InBusinessMonthly column: Apple growing, competing in the business world
Apple has seen significant growth in the last few years with its line of personal computers, and industry watchers think that growth is because of the millions of consumer iPhones and iPods in use, as well as the thousands of “apps” – or programs – for both.
The growth of Apple’s market share in computers is leading the company into the business world, long centered on the Microsoft Windows operating system and compatible hardware, and that growth is led by the fast-growing corporate use of iPhones and business-related apps.
I know many individuals and professionals in Missoula who make their living with a Mac in their home office or a personal office downtown. Some families of professionals have their own home networks with half a dozen MacBooks and iMacs.
But what about the “real” business and corporate market, such as enterprise environments, where employees share files and depend on a network’s reliability?
Craig Flint has seen growth in his own business working with Macs in the business world. He told me that, like the industry pundits, “We’re seeing a top-down approach for Macs in the business environment. Owners and higher-ups like the interface on the iPod or have a Mac at home and now want to work on one at the office.”
Flint is vice-president and chief technical officer at CERNetworks (formally also called Computer-ER), an Apple authorized service provider in Missoula. Most of CERNetworks’ Mac installs are now in business environments. Flint and his company work to get Macs on existing Windows networks and set up new Mac networks for businesses, “since most businesses IT people are Windows-centric,” he said.
Some businesses in Missoula have been with Macs since the beginning. Kelley Durbin, president and founder of Mismo Gymnastics and Cheer, a gymnastics school on West Broadway, said that “Mismo has always used Macs.”
She says she needs to call IT support far less often than with Windows, but sometimes Macs are a little more challenging for new employees coming from a Windows world. But now, she said, many of her staff own their own Mac laptops due to their work experience.
An extensive enterprise user of Macs is the Missoula Human Resource Council District XI. Diane Lenington, operations director, said that they “have had Macs for over 20 years,” and when they started networking their office, they stayed with Macs. Lenington runs two networks, with several Mac servers, connecting several buildings as well as several remote sites.
Lenington said the Human Resource Council’s IT costs are lower as Macs are more intuitive, “so we don’t have to have a specifically trained person to designate a path to a networked resource; it simply appears on the network for those users granted access to it.”
She added that new employees adapt easily to the user-friendly Mac environment and to the ways the Human Resource Council needs to connect to and use external databases and networks. Lenington has a few Windows PCs on the Mac network for specific tasks, but they operate and backup on the network just fine.
One of the biggest “businesses” in town is the University of Montana, and Gordy Pace, information officer for Information Technology, told me that they support many faculty and students with Macs. In addition, programs such as journalism and media arts have extensive Mac networks of their own.
Some analysts are predicting Apple’s computer sales to grow 25 percent this year, after they shipped 17 percent more computers in 2009 than in 2008, so look for even more growth for Apple in the business world.