For decades, Apple has held the heart and soul of the consumer in its palms, while Microsoft has been content to dominate the business users. Apple’s foray into the business realm has been limited to a handful of creative industries, such as design, journalism, and music. But times, they are a-changing, and the landscape of business computing is likely to look much different for these two dominant tech giants as the second decade of the millennium unfolds. What does the IT service desk need to know?
The Overall Device Market
Knowing where your workplace stands in terms of Apple versus Microsoft is pretty easy. Once upon a time you could classify Microsoft Mikes as the guys that run the IT departments for Wall Street, real estate, and the rest of the “hard core” business world. And, Apple Adams were the guys that thrived in design studios and the occasional architect’s office or meteorologist’s workstation.
But this dynamic is shifting, and there are several reasons behind that shift. First is the entry of Google. There was no way for either competitor to predict just how incredibly fast that this upstart would literally take over the tech universe.
PC sales are leveling out. Tablet sales are slowing. Only smartphone sales continue to skyrocket, and smartphones are where Google shows the most power. The Android platform is the clear leader, with Microsoft and Apple merely punching it out for second place.
See, Microsoft and many other big name industry leaders got it wrong. It was never a matter of workers giving up their PCs for doing ordinary work tasks — the trend toward mobile devices was all about adding new flexibility to IT, without sacrificing the desktop, which remains the only realistic way for most office workers to do their jobs on a daily basis. That means PC sales will hold steady, while mobile devices spike and wane as users decide whether it’s easier to tote a tablet to work or to just do all the remote stuff via the smartphone.
The Future of Devices for the IT Service Desk
As these storylines unfold, the position of Apple Adams and Microsoft Mikes is also shifting. Microsoft Mikes were frustrated and confounded with the release of Windows 8, and the new Microsoft business model is set to drive up IT costs considerably. The plan is to begin offering products like Windows, Office, and other business staples as SaaS. This means that costs to update or acquire new software will be lower — in many cases free. But the costs to take advantage of premium services (such as the high-level features businesses need in Excel, Word, etc.) will be ongoing. You can no longer budget for a one-and-done payment to buy or upgrade critical business applications. You will be expected to pay for it forever.
In the meantime, Apple has lowered their costs, rolled out a host of free software (much of it geared toward the business user), and improved their security measures. In short, Apple is making a big push to enter the mainstream business market, and many of the Microsoft Mikes are happily making the switch. Apple has also made the transition much easier by improving compatibility of Apple OS with Microsoft’s most popular products (like Office).
What does this mean for your IT help desk? You might very well see the Microsoft Mikes join forces with Apple Adams, forcing both companies to better cater to the needs of business in order to survive.