What’s Holding Apple Back from the Enterprise?

March 18, 2012 by  

In a recent TWIT (This Week In Technology) podcast, and additional discussions on the MacBreak Weekly podcast, host Leo Laporte and his panelists discussed the new iMac and how attractive it might be to corporate users. That’s when one of the panelists (I don’t remember who) brought up an inconvenient truth (sorry Mr. Gore) that as great as the iMac is, it’s not corporate IT friendly.

When new computers are purchased by corporations for deployment to their staff, the computers need to be IT-friendly. Exactly what is IT-friendly?

  1. The box has to be quick and easy to open, but with “telltales” so techs know if unauthorized persons have gained access to the “box”.
  2. All primary components (disk, memory, etc.) need to be easily accessible for swapout (remember the PowerMac 8500? I still have scars from taking those apart).
  3. Monitors last much longer than CPUs, so they need to be a separate item. IT pros see the iMac as an elegantly-designed piece of hardware, but wasteful, because when the time comes to dispose of the CPU, a perfectly good monitor goes with it.

What this means for Apple, if they are really serious about making inroads into corporate America, is that they need a new box, positioned slightly below the iMac line, and above the Mac minis. The Mac mini, as nice a machine as it is, is too hard to get into for servicing. IT managers will reject it for that reason alone. Also, the graphic subsystem is just not powerful enough for graphic arts professionals.

In my humble opinion, Apple needs a new line of computers spec’ed like this:

  • Design in a form factor large enough to permit the use of standard and longer-lasting 3.5 inch hard disk mechanisms (something like the old “pizza box” Macs of the 90s). Think about repackaging the iMac motherboards, so you have a choice of graphics subsystems. Base models can use onboard Intel graphics chipset, but the graphics/video professionals would be able to use the higher performance graphics chipset.
  • Those enclosures need to be quickly opened, which will allow IT techs to quickly get in and get out.
  • And finally, design it for use with an external monitor that can be retained when the computer is replaced after 2-3 years.

My brother, MyMac.com podcast co-host Guy Serle, has often discussed the need for a “pizza box” form factor machine. This is why, and this is the justification for doing so.

With all of that said, does Apple have the will and resources to develop a business-friendly line of desktop computers?