View Full Version : Macs in business: Chagrin and bear it

Mar 24, 2009, 10:08 PM
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Macs in business: Chagrin and bear it (http://www.macbytes.com/link.php?sid=20090324230845)
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Posted on MacBytes.com (http://www.macbytes.com)
Approved by Mudbug

Mar 25, 2009, 12:09 AM
Some quick thoughts/comments on the article:

Macs have always been perceived as consumer computers, if only because they are easier to use than Windows PCs (by almost all accounts). A few years ago, around the time the upright all-in-one white LCD iMac came out and perhaps due to some extent to the iPod 'halo effect', Apple designed computers started being seen as cool and some companies - even if otherwise wholly PC based - might have an iMac on the front desk, for appearance sake.

Companies that were Windows (or otherwise) based but that had creative departments often put a few Macs in there, following the now hackneyed line that 'Macs are good for creatives....'Oh, this is such a loaded gun. Apple had a lot of business success, actually, with the Apple ][ series. However, the very design of the Mac kind of conspired against it. I'm not saying Apple shouldn't have put out the Mac (and we can clearly see that most of its pioneering ideas have become accepted standards at all levels of our society today), but what I am saying is that it was a combination of 1980s "conventional wisdom" biases and Apple's falling-down in pursuing all business markets aggressively, as well as their failure to license the OS, which ultimately spelled the fate and doom of the Mac platform.

Let's face facts: in the 1980s, a computer wasn't considered a "real" computer if it didn't use DOS, didn't have a text-based interface, used a mouse, had icons, and didn't basically look, act, walk and talk like a boring beige box, pretty much regardless what its feature set was. People of the era, by and large, were not savvy or forward-thinking enough to appreciate the Mac for what it was. They were only able to judge it for the things it wasn't. Moreover, you had studies commissioned to "prove" how bad a concept the mouse was. Against that kind of neanderthal mindset backdrop, what was it one could nominally expect? In many conceptual ways, it was similar to negros and the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, vs. how we view persons of color today (as a society).

Apple went out of their way, in many respects, to try and justify the Mac as a serious business machine. Let's see, we had a 5 1/4" floppy drive accessory; the MacCharlie 8088 system board add-on module that gave you MS-DOS compatibility; a standard numeric keypad; bar code scanners; MS Word/Excel/Chart/Plan/Project; Lotus 1-2-3 and Jazz... the list goes on and on. In addition, you had Apple kind of actively shunning support for games because of concern for the Mac's image as being a "game system" if it became known for the games available for it (kind of like how the Commodore 64 was probably better known for playing games on).

Anyhow, just sayin'...

They're good for creatives, yes. Because Macs are good.The issue I have with this statement stems more from my concern that gives the impression that there's more "fanboy" here than impartial supporter. However, it is a blog, and not some kind of serious attempt at journalism.

I have said this before - there can be incredible resistance by IT staff to bringing Macs into non-Mac environments. This is partly stress and overwork making people reluctant to take on more load, which is understandable, but Macs are actually pretty easy to integrate into many networks because they support many existing networking protocols. There can be laziness pure and simple, maybe, although most IT people I meet seem to be running around like flies with blue you-know-whatsits. Often it's just that the systems are running fine and the knowledge around these established systems runs deep, so why rock the boat?Resistance is normal. There was a lot of resistence when ARPA wanted to drop NCP in favor of TCP/IP. It took government and military management intervention to push it through (believe it or not). What's kind of ironic about that, in a sense, is the military's adoption in recent years of Macs, and the suddenly-the-light-bulb-went-on notion of diversification of tech assets. You don't give everyone the same gun, you don't have only one kind of tank, and all your facilities don't use the same identical layout. *sigh*...

At the worst, there can be an element of anti-Mac prejudice.Again, I'll go back to what I said above: the prejudice has been there long since before you had IT departments, let alone Microsoft-zealot IT departments. We long-term Mac users have been used to the hate, because it's been around a long, long time.

Software engineering consultancy Okori Group CEO Brian Fox reckons Mac popularity comes from its consistency and versatility. Fox said "Apple's two platforms - server and desktop - are homogeneous. The desktop I get on the server is the same one I get on the client. For servers, the Mac is a true crossover system: real Unix with all its tools and scripting, plus the built-in management GUI for less-sophisticated administrators."While I'm all glad to hear this, let's also be realistic. Microsoft has been slacking in terms of making a good quality OS product, and it's literally taken companies' assets being hung out the window and left to flap in the breeze for some of them to have finally woken up to the fact, and actively decided to do something about it. Well, that and Microsoft's relative greed in per-seat licensing terms, etc. However, much of the response to that has been to go to F/OSS solutions, particularly in the server arena (which Apple made this big deal about a couple years ago with the Xserv, which has for all intents and purposes gone over like a lead balloon. Hmm...)

Apple is listening to the point of running free new seminars around the US. Entitled 'Your business on a Mac. A better bottom line,' the three-and-a-half-hour seminars start this week.
That's nice and all, but how about putting out a server at a better price point? Most people I know (or know of) don't go to work and administrate Apple server products. They administer HP, Dell, etc. systems running Red Hat, or Debian, or what-have-you. Once Apple puts out Snow Leopard Server, I'm wondering what that will do for the server market landscape. However, my gut tells me "not much". We'll see. I mean, I may sound like a pessimist here, but I really do hope for the best. Competition is always a healthy thing.

A factor that makes Macs much more attractive to developers is virtualisation - the fact you can use one machine - a Mac, naturally - to develop and test in Windows and Mac OS X.

Deny it as much as you like, the Mac has made inroads into territories it was conspicuously absent from for decades.
Can you say "They switched to x86"?

Mar 25, 2009, 12:43 AM
I believe the article was written to appeal to the NZ media/market and in response to numerous comments from posters to the Mac Planet site on which the article is posted.
The Mac is probably not as widely accepted in NZ business and enterprise ( not including media and design depts) as it is in the US. So yes it could be labeled as a "loaded" gun in that sense.

Mar 26, 2009, 07:25 AM
Macs were (and will be) always overprized outside of the US.