Apple can’t be corporate

Apple has long portrayed an image of being the “fun” computer. While this is just a superficial item, they were, for the longest time, the only alternative to the large beige boxes that plagued many a workplace. Then there is also the iPod, which is a nifty device and oozes the theme of “fun” all through it.
But, with the latest release of the Apple G5 it appears that Apple is attempting to go corporate. You toss in the fact that they’re making another attempt at the server market and that assumption would almost seem fact.
These devices do not ooze fun. They do not affirm an independent and Think Different appearance.
More than one noted professional has mentioned the fact that making the choice to use an UNIX distillate for the core of OS X was indeed a corporate move by Apple in order to grab a chunk of the corporate world. They do, afterall, have a niche market for some designers, so why not attempt to capitalize on the need for a server for that niche market. But why do this when there are countless other manufacturers already in the UNIX/Linux market, such as monolithic IBM?
This is probably one of Apple’s most ill-fated attempts to date and would seem to run contrary to everything that is successful for them currently (iPod, iTunes, multimedia software, etc.) The reasons that I believe this will fail are two: Total Cost of Ownership or TCO and Apple’s inability to deliver their product on a corporate scale.
The first item, the one called TCO is one that is used a lot in my profession because it is a measure by which you ask how much something that you’re buying is costing you now and in the future i.e. the total cost of owning this product. Apple fails miserably on this level for anyone who has been around the block in finance or information technology.
The fact that it costs $2000 to get a good desktop machine from them is untenable. You can get a similiarly equipped machine in the Windows world for around $600. While there are performance tests that say the Apple is faster, in real life, myself and even die-hard Mac fans admit that it really isn’t. So, that’s more than a three-fold cost from the get go. With that, you also need to add in the fact that the Mac comes with a 90 day warranty and the Windows machine comes with a one year warranty as the bare minimum. Why is this important? Because, it is a statement by Apple that even though you are paying much larger prices for hardware that does the same thing, you are not getting any kind of committment by Apple that the hardware will work. Their hardware is cutting edge so to speak, but that does not translate into reliability. So, this is another cost that needs to be figured in, in that you get four times the warranty period with a Windows-based machine than with an Apple.
Then there’s the another small item, which is point 1.5 in that, most IT people can’t work on the Apple computer. For instance, out of the box, I had a dead G5 computer. I don’t fault Apple for this; things happen. But, I do fault Apple for the little salty barb in my day, where, if this was a computer for something that was “mission critical”, I would be completely out of luck. I had to take time out of my day to go down to the local “Genius Bar” :( at the Apple Store and wait there for the G5 to be fixed. Ah! It wasn’t fixed though. It was a five day wait for it to be fixed because it took them a long time to get in the new part. Had a similar situation happened with a PC, I would have been able to go to most any computer store and get the parts I needed to rush it together and worry about the warranty later.
This all ties in to my other big point in that Apple doesn’t seem to be able to deliver product on a large-scale. Because they use very specific parts for their machines, there is a low demand for them and thus, a shortage generally. Currently, I’m trying to purchase about 30 new G5 machines for my office, for which, there is a two to three week wait for the model, which isn’t anything special. It turns out my supplier isn’t the only one having this problem, since it took me calling around to three Apple stores to find one that I needed in a hurry. Three stores and half my day gone! I would have been able to get a PC in a half-hour at most and in actuality wouldn’t have had to, since I can get them from my supplier in the first place.
You tie in an inability to get the parts for the machines and also an inability to supply those machines and you end up with a situation that no IT guy likes to be in, where he has a user who can’t work, who is mad at him and the management also mad at him, because the user can’t work and thus it’s wasting money, time, and possbily the client.
How on earth could anyone roll out Apples on a large-scale at a company unless they absolutely had to? I’m sure not going to do it, except in the case of the designers at my firm and the editors, who have to be tied in with them. All the other people (about 2/5 of the staff) are going to be switched over to Windows machines. In addition to makers of Windows computers being able to take up the slack that Apple likes to butter their toast with, they will also provide a backup plan should Apple kick the bucket on the desktop market, which is what I see happening at some point, since the iPod really is their cash cow now.