Glancing at the years first personal technology announcements, you might think company names had been swapped. We checked, and it really was Microsoft promoting smart wristwatches and refrigerator magnets in Las Vegas, while Apple was showing portable workstations that raise the bar for untethered enterprise productivity in San Francisco.
Were struck by how much these companies have in common, despite the pointless feuding that often erupts between each vendors proponents in the halls of enterprise IT. Microsoft is excoriated for pushing customers off the Windows 9x platform by offering Office 11 for NT/2000/XP only, but Apple is likewise pressuring users to make at least as big a jump to Mac OS X. Microsoft is distrusted for seeking to own the entire space of enterprise and consumer IT, but Apple is likewise its users sole source.
But fair is fair: If Apple should be rightly subject to some of the same criticisms as Microsoft, it should also receive the same respect from enterprise buyers for setting the pace of innovation. With its Unix-derived operating system, 800M-bps FireWire, 54M-bps 802.11g and short-range Bluetooth wireless, fast graphics, and built-in DVD recorder, Apples 17-inch PowerBook is as cool as it gets for power users; enterprise IT will like its 12-inch model, which combines notebook portability with workstation capability, including a newly integrated suite of category-leading multimedia tools.
Apple offers a well-crafted graphical operating environment, on an open-source-based operating system, supported by best-of-breed, standards-based development tools such as Borland Softwares JBuilder. Mac OS X is gaining ground among users who formerly kept both a Unix workstation and a Windows PC on their desks but now find one machine meeting both needs. The Macintosh is also proving itself in large-scale adoptions, as in the state of Maines issuing of an iBook to each seventh-grade student.
If one thing is still missing from the picture for enterprise buyers, its management tools. Apple is addressing this concern with its Remote Desktop, enabling interactive support and centralized software distribution over wireless, as well as wired, networks.
To those who gripe about having only one real end-user IT choice, we have a suggestion: Stop complaining and look at Apple.