Apple carving into Microsoft’s niche: Corporate workplace

Tech giant moves in on Microsoft’s niche

- By Scott Martin

Growing appetite for Apple products may signal Window’s dominance near end.

Microsoft’s corporate Windows business is losing ground to Apple. Apple is hiring sales executives across the U.S. to get more of its products into Fortune 1,000 companies. Microsoft has traditiona­lly dominated the corporate workplace, and more than 85% of corporate computers still run some version of Windows software. But products based on Apple operating systems — including Macintosh computers, ipads and iphones — are increasing in demand.

Apple declined to comment on its hiring moves. But Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett said a rash of recent want-ads by Apple is “strong evidence that Apple is responding to the demands of companies for a direct, formal relationsh­ip” with the company rather than buying products from the Apple Store.

The growing appetite for Apple products in the workplace underscore­s the changing nature of the corporate market. Workers want lighter laptops, tablet computers with longer-lasting batteries and smartphone­s with apps in the office environmen­t. And informatio­n technology department­s and buyers are listening.

Last year, 46% of companies in North America and Europe issued Macs to employees, according to a survey from Forrester Research.

That survey of nearly 10,000 workers worldwide found that 11% are using iphones at work; 9%, ipads; and 8%, Macs.

Younger workers and those near or at the top of the corporate ladder were more likely to use Apple products in the office, according to the survey. Forty-one percent of Apple users were directors, 43% earned more than $150,000 a year, and 28% were between the ages of 18 and 24.

IT support for Apple products is also on the rise. Some 30% of workplaces support Macs, 27% support ipads, and 37% support iphones.

Apple’s gains, coupled with Microsoft misses on mobile devices, which increasing­ly are issued by companies and used by workers, may signal that “Windows’ dominance is at an end,” says Forrester’s report.

However, Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, continues to be a corporate mainstay, Forrester says.

Apple sold $12 billion worth of ipads and iphones to enterprise customers in 2011, and that could more than double to $28 billion by 2013, Forrester estimates.

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