Can our small business make the switch?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by sir42, Jul 30, 2004.

  1. sir42 macrumors 6502

    Sep 16, 2003
    NY, NY
    I recently switched from PC to Mac at home and I couldn’t be happier. The Mac was a little more expensive, but as a personal user, I was happy to pay the premium.

    I work as an office manager in a small business of 6 employees (right now only 4 though). Our current Windows machines are getting old and are in need of a replacing. I’m putting together a proposal to buy new computers to submit to my boss. While I would love to switch our office over to Macs, I’m having a hard time making it seem worthwhile. So I’m hoping to get some ideas on how we can use Macs in our business that would make the cost premium worth it to us. I’ve listed below some of the sticking points I’ve encountered as I put together my proposal.

    1. I priced out a Dell Dimension with features comparable to the current low-end iMac. The price of the Dell: $1,130. The cost of the iMac: $1,299 before customization and I would at least want to add a SuperDrive (the cost of the Dell includes a DVD burner).

    2. The cost of the Dell above includes Microsoft Office. I will have to buy between 4 and 6 new copies of Microsoft Office for Mac. Each copy is $399. I found something on the MS website about volume licensing, and it looks like our office would be right for the Open License. But the website doesn’t list any pricing information. Does anyone know what the price scale is like for the Open License?

    3. Our office relies heavily on QuickBooks. All of our current computers have it, as do our accountants. We routinely e-mail our QuickBooks files to and from our accounts. It looks like on a Mac we would have to first convert the file to a Windows format, and vice versa. Also, on our current set up with our Windows machines, we keep our QuickBooks files in a shared folder, so multiple people can access it (not at the same time, although that would be nice). Would we be able to do that using QuickBooks 6 for Mac?

    4. Also, I can’t seem to find any information on volume licensing QuickBooks Pro 6.0 for Macs. A 5 user pack of the Windows version is $749.95. A single copy of the Mac version is $299.95. Five copies on our new Macs would run us $1499.75, twice the cost of the 5 user pack for Windows.

    5. If we purchased four new iMacs at $1,399 (which includes the SuperDrive) and all of the software above (assuming a $100 discount on each additional copy of MS Office until I know otherwise), the total cost to us (excluding shipping and taxes), would be $8,091.80.

    The total cost of buying 4 new Dell machines would be $5,269.95. The premium for us to switch to Macs would be $2,821.85.

    The caveat here is that one of our PCs is less than a year old. We would only be buying three new PCs, as opposed to four new iMacs. The price difference in actuality is: $3,951.85.

    6. Here’s what I really need to know however. Forgetting for one moment the added cost in switching to Macs, and the trouble we will encounter sending QuickBooks files to and from our accountants, how will switching to Macs be beneficial to our small business? What makes them worth their price premium and how can I sell this idea to my boss and co-workers?

    Thanks much!!
  2. KevRC4130 macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2004
    Have you ever had a worker get a major virus on their computer, or have it crash and lose important information? You can use OS X's stability and Apple's lack of viruses and spyware to your advantage...
  3. Silencio macrumors 68020


    Jul 18, 2002
    Where are you going to get the iMacs from? There are apparantly no more left in the retail channel; you'd have to wait until September or whenever it is that Apple releases the new iMacs (which may or may not have G5s). Pricing details are not known at this time.

    You could always go eMac for less money: $799 for 1.25GHz w/combo drive, $999 for 1.25GHz w/Superdrive. And why do you need the Superdrives, anyway? Could you get away with combo drives on all the machines, or purchasing only one machine with a Superdrive and the rest with combo drives?

    You can get Quickbooks 6 for $260-270 from the major catalog/online vendors (CDW, MacConnection). I would contact Intuit directly and ask about volume licensing.

    I would, however, be inclined to say that if Quickbooks is the primary app your business runs, you would be better off staying on the PC platform. The Mac version is still a few steps behind the PC version, and the whole file conversion process is ridiculous considering how many other applications have managed to come up with cross-platform file formats over the years.
  4. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    The QuickBooks file conversion doesn't seem like a big issue. I didn't sit through the demo but it doesn't look too painful. I didn't see site license info on their site. Give them a call and find out. Also ask about a cross-platform upgrade. Some vendors will do this. You've already purchased QuickBooks for Windows so ask for the upgrade price on the Mac version.

    Same thing for MS Office. Again, I'm not sure if MS does this but I think they do. Ask for an upgrade price for the switch to Office for Mac.

    You mentioned purchasing iMacs. I guess you haven't heard that Apple is no longer taking orders for the iMac? There is a new iMac that will be announced in late August or early Sept. It is going to have the G5 processor and (probably) a new form factor. The other big question is what will it cost. No one knows yet, but with the upgrade to G5 I think the best bet would be for prices to hold, or small increases. I don't think we'll see price cuts.

    Have you considered eMacs? They pretty much match the iMac specs minus the LCD. Great bargin and much more durable.

    I'd also reconsider the SuperDrive. For an office environment a combo drive should be fine. Maybe get one with a SuperDrive so you can back up 4gb to a DVD on that machine. The other users should be fine with backing up to CD-R. I know the Dell comes with a DVD burner but a combo drive eMac is only $799 or go all out and get Superdrive eMacs for $999.

    As for justifing it to the boss...

    1. Lower computer support costs, which leads to increased productivity: who does the PC support now? Is it you? If someone is going to lose a job you may not want to make this argument but there is always the line that Macs are more reliable, break down less often, and generally have less issues. This leads to lower support costs, less lost time and more productivity. This is hard to quantify but in general terms it seems to be true.

    2. Security and Viruses: There are very few viruses for Mac OS X (don't say that there are no viruses). There are security updates for the OS but much less frequent than Windows and the patches are painless to install. Not like the Windows Update nightmares. Also, OS X is built on Unix and therefore is more secure than Windows. Windows was not a multi-user OS in the beginning. Unix always has been.

    3. Apple also has good support and customer service. Don't let them throw the "Dell has excellent service" line at you. Why do so many people know about Dell's excellent service???

    4. Macs last longer: how old are the PCs you are replacing? A current Mac should last you a good 4 years. But, with Mac OS X being updated every 12-18 months the machines do age quicker than they had in the past. For example, most of the current Macs don't have video cards that can fully take advantage of CoreImage and CoreVideo coming in Tiger. But generally, Macs last longer than PCs in terms of usability and durability. What are you going to do with the old PCs? Are they leased or purchased? Will you be able to sell them and get a decent price? Old Macs hold there value very well and there is a strong demand for used Macs so you'll be able to sell them in four years for alot more than a four year old PC.

    Good luck!
  5. krimson macrumors 65816


    Oct 29, 2003
    Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia
    To be fair.

    For businesses, they do have excellent service, last month, 5/12 of our disks died, and we had replacements within 6 hours of the call. Im sure that our IT manager has a good warranty, in either case, mission critical issues are resolved very well.

    For consumers... well, that's suspect, i've not had very good service experiences with them.

    and I agree with just about everyone, drop the Superdrives, unless you absolutely need to burn DVD's on each Mac. Otherwise, get an external for your backups.
  6. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Assuming that the PC monitors aren't complete crap, have you considered buying Powermac G4s (which would need an external monitor)? Apple apparently still has them in stock, and you could get one for $1299 plus upgrades (RAM!). Buy an external Lacie DVD burner - the new dual-layer one comes with Toast 6, which lets any mac on the network burn to it. I don't think everyone needs a DVD burner - or would use one!

    Also, since one of the PCs is relatively new, there's no reason not to keep it around and operational for some tasks. The Macs will talk to it fine for purposes of file sharing.

    I agree with the posters above that the big gains are in post-purchase costs - support, antivirus, etc. Macs are simply easier to support and maintain than PCs, especially in a small company where no one is likely a PC guru. One bad virus can kill every PC in your business. That is expensive.

    Ease of use yields greater productivity. Scripting is easier. Apps are friendlier, etc.

    The best business arguments for buying Macs are: (1) no viruses, (2) ease of upkeep, and (3) ease of use. It's hard to put a price on those things, but they're more valuable than the price of the computer itself.
  7. rt_brained macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2002
    My girlfriend works for an equity management firm with 60-70 employees and the whole firm is Mac-based, including the accounting department. A real diamond in the rough, this company.

    I agree with the others that you should look into eMacs as a solution. The screen size is plenty big enough for most office applications and the hardware is more than sufficient.

    Forget about the premium for switching to Macs. The amount of downtime spent protecting and/or recovering from electronic attack and troubleshooting software/hardware compatibility issues will make up that cost very quickly.

    I expect a fair amount of resistance in the beginning from co-workers not wanting to take the time to ramp up, once learned, it'll be a much more pleasing experience in the long run (as you've already noticed yourself).
  8. hmmfe macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2003
    I can't really argue with any of the advice given so far...

    We did the same thing last October at my company. We purchased iMACs and a G5 for a server. Everything worked wonderfully, with absolutely no downtime. Recently, we moved back to PCs due to some software constraints (not really the fault of Apple).

    So, my thoughts from my experience is this. You will have less problems in general - no virii, more stable OS, etc. Pather Server is really a capable SMB server platform. The cost is modestly higher, but not significant. The only issue for us was software compatability. If you are reasonably sure you will not have this issue, then I would highly recommend the change.

    P.S. The G5 is now my personal machine at home :D
  9. MikeLaRiviere macrumors regular

    May 25, 2004
    How fast is your business expanding? If you're going to remain at under ten employees for the next few years, buying Macs is somewhat justifiable. I wouldn't go with the iMac though. Comparable to the iMac is the iBook, which makes more sense to deploy because your employees can use them at home and out of town, etc. However, I may be missing the purpose of your business... in what field is the business, and what exactly does it do? The answer to these questions may best determine whether Macs are appropriate.

    If you're going to need computing power (CAD, scientific, engineering, medical, graphic applications), I'd recommend going with G5s simply because they're future proof for a good number of years. However, if you're looking at iMacs, it sounds like you don't need computing power. As a result, I'd recommend iBooks as the best choice, simply because the cost is so low, their power is comparable to the iMacs' power, and they are portable. Be sure to research software options thoroughly, though, because the cost you're currently looking at seems incredibly high - for instance, PowerBooks and PowerMacs come with QuickBooks NUE preinstalled.

    Mike LaRiviere
  10. Fukui macrumors 68000


    Jul 19, 2002
    I would say good luck, but Quickbooks for Mac S**cks... IMHO of course.
    You should investigate pretty thoroughly first, maybe just buy a cheap eMac and load the apps you need first, and see if they behave they way you want too - i.e if you can stand quickbook's tiny fonts etc. Also if you use Access or an Exchange server, those are also other barriers that will inhibit productivity by switching, if on the otherhand those barriers don't exist, then it would probably be fine I'm guessing... depends on what industry I would think. Also make sure you printers/peripherals are compatible (most should be).

    As for benefits, well, no virus' no spyware, looks really nice to clients (esp. iMac) OS X of course is fun to use... you'll at least not be tied to MS on the server side of things (no need for exchange/IIS/biztalk/ licencing BS etc. etc.). I'm guessing maintaining the Macs should be a LOT easier and less expensive.

    For me, in my own business there is no question I would use macs, But for existing businesses, it really depends on what apps you are using and need...

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