Could Apple Make A Come Back?

Recently, I have noticed 12% of my blog readers use an Apple over the last quarter which is up from 3% for the same period last year. I knew Apple’s market share was increasing but that is a noticeable jump in popularity. Many ask me for my commentary regarding Apple’s surge in sales and I often joke “Apple is still the same company, it is Microsoft and their Vista debacle that is stinking up the place.”

For the last 8 years, I have recommended technology to companies as a profession so I know a thing or two about the subject. My client’s came to rely on me to recommend technology that would meet their staff’s needs while also lasting long enough to return a profit. If you were to ask me 3 years ago, Linux may have probably parsed my lips when referring to specific firewall technology but 99.9% of the time for servers, desktops and laptop, we looked to Microsoft.

Why? How many Apple or Linux branded computers do you see running the scheduling software on the production line in your local factory, accounting software on your accountant’s computer or the email system of a Fortune 500?

During the last eight years in business, we just never had the opportunity to work with Apple Computer on a large scale primarily due to integration demands by our clients, compatibility issues between Apple and Microsoft and then there was the price issue, Apple has historically priced their systems higher than other systems such as those from Dell or HP.

Truth Alert #1: Corporate clients want secure robust technology that will integrate with their existing systems for a reasonable price and little maintenance. Without going into a lot of tech-speak, that just wasn’t Apple’s game. Apple’s lack of integration with existing corporate systems combined with historically higher pricing often forced them out of consideration by most corporate technology departments.

Truth Alert #2: If marketing departments wrote purchase orders, then this may have been a different story. Reality was that accounting departments wrote PO’s and the PO’s were printed from Great Plains running on PC’s. This was often a hard reality for the devoted fans of the once world’s #1 computer maker but it was reality. (Apple lovers, please don’t send me those nasty emails because I didn’t make the rules, I just play by them.)

In 2006, Apple made a 180 degree turn and surprised the world and myself when Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, announced his company would be shifting their product line from an IBM based processor to the Intel based processor for the first time in history. This was a dramatic move given how Apple for years had swore allegiance to their processor as being superior over the predominantly PC based processors such as Intel. PC users could now switch to Apple because now users could install a Microsoft Windows operating system on an Apple, something not possible before. Apple further made it possibly by releasing a free application called Bootcamp (yet Apple stated publicly Windows deployments on their computers were not supported.)

Now that Apple switched to Intel, many of us actually wondered if Apple would consider officially preinstalling Microsoft operating systems, would Apple consider integrating tighter with Microsoft networks? Technologist like myself began to watch and see if this was a step forward for Apple toward corporate interoperability and compatibility. This move to Intel based processing would (in my professional opinion) prove to be the game changing move by Apple (the iPhone wasn’t a bad move either) and I feel was the critical catalyst to why we are seeing my Apple traffic jump from 3% to 12%.

Just to be clear, business technologist have not yet jumped to partner with Apple but we are at least beginning to start keeping one eye in Apple’s direction and not bad mouthing the appearance of those Mac’s that sometimes happen to show up in a company by a rogue user.

For all you Apple enthusiast out there, many non-technicals unlike myself could not imagine your ride over the last 2 decades. You have seen your once great company go from #1 to within inches of death and now back to prime time. The only Apple computer I have ever owned was an Apple IIe and that was in the early 80’s when I was in junior high. Some 20 years later, I now own a iPhone and I must admit it is a very fun device (I wish I could say the same for the AT&T service.)

Yet, Apple’s rise in popularity has 3 upcoming forces which could cause Apple’s increasing rate in market share to slow. First is the release of Microsoft 7 Operating System scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd. If Microsoft executes perfectly much like they did after the Windows ME debacle with the release of Microsoft XP, you could see Microsoft effectively start to defend its large market share as well as start to win back those corporate users they lost from the Windows Vista nightmare. Secondly, Google is announcing they are putting their feet into the operating system waters (a move that forced Apple to ask Google CEO Eric Schmidt to step down from their corporate board.) Lastly, the rise in popularity of the Net Book . I had a friend who swore by his Apple laptop just switch to a net book because the $249 price was just too irresistible. Apple, who has owned the high-end market for years, will have a tough time competing with a computer costing less than $250.

The clear advantage for Apple is the iPhone and iPod which are making many passionate users look over at their computer line. Apples stock price has rebounded and they have many new loyal followers as well as those who stuck with them even when times were looking bad. This week, Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, admitted off the record Microsoft ‘screwed up’ with Windows Mobile and let Palm and Apple take the lead (Microsoft Mobile has dropped to 9% market share).  

I haven’t yet upgraded to an Apple computer but the mere fact I mention that statement will probably fill my inbox with messages from Apple lovers chomping to get me to buy one (just picture my Microsoft Certified Partner logo on a Mac). The one fact over the years that hasn’t change, Apple lovers are still a vocal, opinionated and passionate group that have rightfully claimed the “cool” computer brand. Microsoft users like me are starting to appear more and more like the old IBM OS/2 guys from the 80’s. My wife even recently said when debating the issue of me owning an Apple or not: “Honey, I love you but I just don’t think you’re cool enough for an Apple.” For those of you Apple passionates about to send me an email to switch, instead please send my wife a message informing her “Micky really is cool enough for an Apple!”

Whether or not I buy an Apple, the company is most definitely back and that is good for all consumers.