eWEEK Labs Apple Birthday Bash

As the iPod-waving company turns 30, it still doesn't get the enterprise.

April 1 marked Apples 30th birthday. As our Apple reviews retrospective illustrates, we humble Labs analysts havent been following the company in print for lo those three decades, but we have been tracking Apples products and the enterprise implications of those wares for quite some time now.

While reflecting on the interest weve shown in Apple—an interest that, based on the bulk of e-mail that Apple coverage tends to engender, our readers appear to share—its worth reflecting on whether the company is actually interested in the enterprise computing market that we cover and our readers comprise.

Its true that Apple puts out the time and effort to produce enterprise-targeted products, such as its Xserve servers and RAID storage products. Its also true that Apples Mac OS X stands on equal footing with any other operating system now deployed in the enterprise in terms of polish, performance and functionality.

Yet the veteran computing company, which prefers to bill itself as the maker of the iPod, withholds much that enterprise customers must take for granted, such as communicative product road maps.

Apples famous secrecy may make for fantastical trade show keynotes, but its tough to plan ones enterprise infrastructure with little idea where your vertically integrated vendor is headed.

Chiefly, however, and today more than ever, enterprises require the flexibility to run operating systems and accompanying software on their choice of hardware, such as on virtual machines—an exploding IT terrain on which OS X is not licensed to tread.

Here in our lab, and in the test labs that many of our readers maintain, virtualization occupies a growing role in evaluations and internal deployment choices. Apples unveiling of the long-hidden x86 version of OS X removes technical barriers to deploying the software in this way, but Apples licensing restrictions remain.

Sturdy lock-in between hardware and software may fly for MP3-player firmware, but if an enterprise IT department is to invest in a computing platform, tight-lipped product lead-ups and single-source vendor relationships wont cut it—and Apple certainly recognizes this.

Tell us, then, Apple: Should we in the enterprise bother staying tuned for the next anniversary?

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at jason_brooks@ziffdavis.com.