Does Apple's Snow Leopard Really Matter To SMBs? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/27/2009
06:47 PM
Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul
Commentary
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Does Apple's Snow Leopard Really Matter To SMBs?

This is a big week for the Apple Macintosh. The company is rolling out its big Snow Leopard Mac OS X upgrade, and of special interest to SMBs, the server version of Snow Leopard debuts as well. But how big a deal is the Macintosh world to SMBs anyway?

This is a big week for the Apple Macintosh. The company is rolling out its big Snow Leopard Mac OS X upgrade, and of special interest to SMBs, the server version of Snow Leopard debuts as well. But how big a deal is the Macintosh world to SMBs anyway?While Apple has grown market share among consumers, there's less evidence to suggest that Macs are boosting their presence inside businesses, even small and midsize businesses -- except for companies using certain graphical and creative applications.

And despite widespread praise for the Mac, and for Snow Leopard, it's not clear that mass numbers of SMBs are about to throw away their PCs in favor of Macs.

Even as Apple's latest Mac vs. PC commercials poke fun at PCs for their vulnerability to malware, it's come to light that Apple found it advisable to add malware protection to Snow Leopard. While Macs clearly still suffer far less from malware than do PCs, that advantage could be starting to diminish as Macs gain a bigger slice of the computer market -- and thus become a bigger target.

Even as Apple mocks PCs on TV, the company has made great strides in making Macs play nice with Microsoft. One of the big improvements in Snow Leopard is better support for Exchange Server, a mainstay of SMB IT shops.

But Microsoft's upcoming release of Windows 7 and an increasing focus on design and aesthetics among PC makers threatens to narrow the perceived quality gap between Macs and other machines. (Heck, moving away from Vista promises to help shrink Microsoft's perceived quality gap with just about anything!)

The bigger issue is that while Apple continues to value to its product line, it's still generally more expensive than "equivalent" PCs (I know, I know, they're not really the same, but...). Even more important, Apple still declines to participate in the low end of the PC market -- which is where the volume is and where most business customers are spending their money these days. I don't know lots of SMBs looking to spend more than $1000 on general-purpose business computers.

So, even as Apple and the Mac are riding high, most of that success (apart from the iPhone, of course) isn't having a big impact on small and midsize companies.

I'm not sure Snow Leopard is going to change that much. But if you feel differently, please feel free to let me know why.

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NOTE: This blog post was adapted from the bMighty Weekly Digest e-mail newsletter. Click here for a free subscription to any or all of the bMighty newsletters.

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