February 11, 2010, 10:25 AM — Last summer, it looked like Apple was finally going to make its Macs and iPhones enterprise-capable, giving hope to those who wanted a more stable, less failure-prone option at the office. Soon, it appeared, Macs and iPhones would no longer need to come in through the back door, or be relegated to "special" departments such as software development or marketing.
Don't count on it.
Bolstered by Windows Vista's travails and the advent of OS-neutral Web apps, the Mac is no doubt on the rise in business. Even IT pros have begun warming up to the Mac. After all, a business-class MacBook Pro costs the same as a business-class Windows PC, so there's no cost disadvantage to buying Mac hardware. And I hear consistently from IT folks who manage both Macs and PCs that Mac hardware tends to fail less frequently than PCs do and that its OS is more stable than Windows, translating into lower internal IT support costs. (Apple's support plans cost about $30 more per year than what a Dell, Lenovo, or HP charges, and they require you to bring a Mac in to an authorized repair shop, which can be an issue for IT when the Macs do have problems.)
Moreover, Apple's new emphasis on business capabilities in 2009 seemed to be the official boost that business Mac users had longed for. Among them, the new Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, which added native Microsoft Exchange support to its Mail, Address Book, and iCal apps, as well as improved VPN and firewall capabilities. As for the iPhone, its iPhone 3.0 OS update added landscape email access, copy and paste, and Exchange calendar invite support -- all features desired by business users. It also added support for more Exchange security policies, such as camera disablement, remote wipe, certificate-based authentication, and policy encryption.
Yet the reality of enterprise Mac and iPhone adoption stands in stark contrast to the promise these changes have held for Apple to push its products deeper into business.