January 17, 2012, 9:52 AM — Over the years, Apple has earned a less-than-stellar reputation among purchasers of enterprise desktops. Macs were seen as overpriced to begin with. And Apple didn't offer huge discounts for bulk purchases, like the PC makers. Plus, Macs didn't come with the ecosystem of integrated productivity and management apps that are taken for granted in the Windows world.
But the latest numbers don't lie. Apple's U.S. market share for the quarter ended Sept. 30 jumped from 10.5% to 11.3%, according to IDC. And Apple's global Mac shipments increased by 20%. Gartner puts Apple's U.S. market share at 12.9%, with a 21.5% growth in PC shipments.
In its latest earnings report, Apple said Mac sales hit an all-time high of 4.9 million units, a 26% year-over-year increase. And according to a survey by Forrester Research, 22% of enterprises report the use of employee-owned Mac computers is growing significantly.
So, what is Apple doing differently? The answer, not surprisingly, is not much. Apple hasn't changed, but the world has.
The popularity of consumer-oriented devices like iPhones and iPads among traditional end users has created a sea change in the enterprise. Whereas enterprise IT managers once tried to keep a tight lid on new hardware accessing the network, the trend toward a new open attitude is described in two of the big buzzwords of the day: consumerization of IT and BYOD (bring your own device.)
Then there's the new generation of employees entering the workforce who are demanding computers that they're already familiar with - and that means Macs.
When it comes to applications, the concerns of the past don't apply as much anymore. Traditional Microsoft Office apps run just fine on the Mac these days. And with more apps being hosted in the cloud, whether the host computer is a PC or a Mac is becoming a non-issue.
According to Forrester analyst David Johnson, there are a couple of other reasons for the Mac surge: productivity and prestige.
"The corporate PC as a device is increasingly over-managed, creating very difficult-to-use systems for people, and impacting productivity," he says. "The length of time we were on Windows XP created a lot of frustration with end users."