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Apple apps go free but enterprise won't be tempted

Den Howlett Profile picture for user gonzodaddy October 22, 2013
Apple is bundling its office productivity solutions free with the latest release of hardware. But will enterprise buyers be tempted? No way. Here is why.

Apple has decided to bundle its iWork suite of office productivity applications for customers that purchase the latest release of its iPad and MacBook series laptops.

While the Apple fanbois and girls will likely drool over such a ballsy move, the announcement will make close to zero difference in the enterprise. On the one hand, we see continuing penetration by Apple iPad in many enterprise scenarios. For example, Burberry has deployed iPads to all its stores. All SBB train drivers have them. But MacBooks? That's a different story.

Despite the fact I see many MacBooks (MacBook Air and MacBook Pro) in the hands of corporate users, they are often loaded up with a virtual machine that emulates Windows on top of which they run Microsoft Office. Or they use openOffice.

I have never received a Pages document, Numbers spreadsheet or Keynote presentation and I don't anticipate that will change anytime soon. 

It is conceivable that Apple could take market share from Word and PowerPoint since formal documents that require the kind of advanced capabilities present in Word are diminishing in usage except in cases where macro driven document templates are needed. PowerPoint is bloated and again, diminishing in value. I can achieve pretty much anything I need for a presentation in Keynote.

But even if you accept those statements as a fair reflection of trends, there is no way to see Numbers replacing Excel.

The Excel spreadsheet is the default metaphor for anything that requires analysis or reporting by the finance department. That alone represents a form of stickiness that even the best business intelligence tools and complete reporting solutions have not been able to dislodge. Pivot tables and VLookUp alone are killer features that number geeks will not give up.


For its part, there is no compelling reason for Microsoft to worry about Apple's offer given that the price points for the latest fully loaded 15 inch MacBook Pros re

main in nose bleed territory for most corporate buyers. So while they make fantastic mobile video production machines, their potential for wide scale use is absolutely cost constrained. Add in the fact that failure rates for Apple equipment are much higher than comparable PC machines and any corporate buyer would have to be on the ego trip of a lifetime to justify the expense.

Finally, while Apple is also touting collaboration, it isn't really collaboration of the kind I recognize. From The Verge:

Once you're finished with a document, you can share it using a URL you can email or message to a friend. From their computer, they can open the document, and even make changes alongside you, just like you can in Google Docs.

That's just about feature parity with Google, which itself provides good collaboration capabilities but is hardly advanced as understood by enterprise.

But...with slightly lower price points for the high end MacBookPros, I can see plenty of individuals being tempted to invest in the new devices. I sure as heck am ;)

While talking about the new MBPs, I was fascinated to see that while available for immediate shipment, the new machines are not available in store. I'm wondering what tricks Apple has pulled in its already efficient supply chain system that lead it down the 'online buy only' least for the time being.

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