Once upon a time, when you heard of a business using Macs, there was a pretty good chance that it was a creative business. Macs have long been the favored computers among graphic designers, advertising agencies, and other creative, graphics-heavy industries thanks to their high-quality graphics and user-friendly interfaces.
However, recent studies show that Macs are gaining traction among all sorts of businesses, not just those that are working in the design field. In fact, according to one survey of IT professionals from small to large businesses, more than 45 percent are offering employees the option of using a Mac for work rather than a PC. In fact, many major corporations, including IBM and Google, have already made the switch to Apple products. On a global scale, by the end of this year, experts predict that Apple will hold nearly 15 percent of the global business computing market. This is significant, given that even as recently as 2008, research firm Forester was predicting that company Macs would be a nonentity within a few years.
As it turns out, Forester was wrong. So what is driving the growth of Mac usage in business? As it turns out, mobile plays a huge role, but so do several other important factors.
The Mobile ‘Halo Effect’
In large part, it’s Apple’s dominance in the mobile market that is driving the growth in desktop computers. One of the chief selling points of Apple products like iPods, iPhones, and iPads is that they easily pair with each other and Mac computers, creating a streamlined and seamless experience. In fact, many people who start off with an iPhone or iPad purchase additional devices within a few months — and a shift to a Mac is only a natural progression. Experts call this the “halo effect”: People who use, and like, the iOS operating system want the same experience on their computers.
Another factor driving the mobile halo is the fact that many employees are bringing Apple devices to work — and want them to work with their company-issued computer. This trend has contributed significantly to the increase in requests for Macs in departments other than design or advertising, and a growing acceptance of the platform across the board.
Security considerations have also led to the proliferation of Macs in the workplace. The general perception is that Macs are more secure than PCs, with many people still operating under the assumption that “Macs don’t get viruses.” The truth is that Macs can get viruses (thus the recent push for users to install antivirus protection for Mac), but the likelihood is nowhere near as great as with a PC. Not to mention, many IT professionals believe that Macs are easier to maintain and support, with far fewer issues than with PCs.
Perhaps an even greater issue, though, is the fact that BYOD is actually creating some security issues that switching to Macs could alleviate. Because there are some compatibility issues between Apple products and PCs, many users are developing workarounds that could potentially put corporate networks at risk. By offering Macs, the need for those workarounds disappears, and security is easier to maintain.
Should You Make the Switch?
There is some evidence that offering Macs to employees can actually attract talent, as many prospective employees, especially younger people, are comfortable with and prefer them. But are they necessarily right for your business? There are a few things to consider:
Windows-dependent applications. While more businesses have switched to Mac, many legacy applications haven’t quite caught up. Networks aren’t always Mac-friendly either, making it difficult for employees to maintain the productivity they are expecting. If you’re thinking about making the switch, plan to invest in some non-Windows dependent software, and making changes to your infrastructure to make it more platform-agnostic.
Cloud issues. Compatibility between Apple and Windows products is also an issue in the cloud. While there is some compatibility between the online productivity suites Office365 and iWork, there isn’t the same compatibility between the offline equivalents. Suites that are fully compatible, like GoogleDocs, don’t offer the same level of functionality, meaning that you may have to make some tradeoffs or choose a single operating system.
Security. Again, Macs are inherently more secure than PCs, but just because they get fewer viruses than PCs doesn’t mean they are immune to corruptions or Trojans. When making the switch to a Mac, you must still develop a security strategy, preferably one that does not affect the machine’s performance.
Whether or not Macs “take over” the business market and become the dominant market leader remains to be seen, but the fact is they are growing. If you have considered offering Macs, do your research, and understand that the switch requires more than just letting employees plug in and go to work.