Apple Targets SMB IT?

by Dave Michels

Apple’s journey over the past decade has been truly fascinating. They do everything wrong, yet it continues to work. The latest move – Joint Venture – Consumerization of IT services starting at $499.
The topic of consumerization of IT is becoming a frequent one, and nearly always includes the word Apple. When we talk IT – complex images come to mind. Mainframes, servers, databases, firewalls, clusters, and more. Serious stuff. When we talk about Apple – it’s a different tone. Fun, elegant, sexy, and sleek. People buy these powerful devices and bring them to work. Apple loves this as it far more prefers selling to people than organizations. But that appears to be shifting – sorta.
The notion of appstores and powerful intuitive devices put the IT industry on notice. Does it really need to be so complicated? Meanwhile Apple keeps hitting it out of the park with product after product. Decision after decision ridiculed, but clearly correct.
I mean come on – look at these moronic decisions:
Dump MacOS9 platform and completely start a new with a proprietary UNIX derivative (OSX). This really made no sense. All of their partners would have to re-evaluate starting anew. Plus UNIX has been around for years, yet never very popular. So many other UNIX flavors are free and/or open. Linux was already on the scene disrupting commercial flavors of UNX. Conversely, Windows has done a reasonable job of ensuring most applications continue to work on its new operating systems. Microsoft launched XP the same year as MacOS.

  • Then there was the decision to open retail stores right as the Internet was destroying retail. In fact, Gateway 2000 was pushed into bankruptcy largely for its near identical approach to retail. Various forms of retail were hurting more than others, but none as much as computers. Just ask the folks from Circuit City or CompUSA. Amazon and Dell were defining the new direct model – look ma no store space.
  • How about the launch of the iPhone? The single most expensive cell phone the world had ever seen, locked to one carrier. Apple had no credibility, it was their first attempt at a cell phone. The subsidized version of the iPhone was three times the price of most current “smartphones” which only required a one year contract. Not to mention the ridiculous notion that only approved software could be installed on it. Doomed to fail from the get go.
  • The iPad was doomed to fail as well. A totally new concept, no phone, no upgrade path, no i/o ports, no changeable battery and no clear idea what it could do or if it would replace anything.

Now for something completely different – Apple’s new Joint Venture. Aimed at SMBs (up to 100 computers), the service leverages Apple’s retail network to offer many services that companies likely obtain now from an internal or external IT service.
It starts at $499 and covers 5 computers and each additional is another $99. For that you get the following:

  • Apple Retail Based Business Team teachs will set up a business’s Macs, iPads, and iPhones (iPods?) including data transfer from other computers (including PCs) and installation of any software purchased through Apple.
  • Store based training of employees. The $499 includes 3 x 2 hour training sessions per year.
  • Store based disgnostic assessments of equipment. System updates, even cleanings.
  • Telephone support: Call-a-genius.
  • Loaner MacBook Pro or MacBook Air w/ Office should equipment need to be sent in for repair.

The move is no doubt brilliant – I can’t explain it, but I’m sure it will be. I am not an Apple product fan, but do respect its business acumen. The retail stores have already wiped-out most 3rd party Apple retailers and this move will probably kill off remaining third party Apple service consultants.
Apple is also mainstreaming its approach of ignoring IT. To my knowledge, Apple doesn’t have field reps calling on IT departments. If you want to talk to us (and of course you do), come to an Apple store – but make an appointment first to minimize wait time.
Apple is an amazing company and does a wonderful job of changing up the space. It’s iPad2 will no doubt be a major success while competitors are still struggling to get their first version to ship.