“Apple’s not ready for the Enterprise”, a phrase my co-workers are quite familiar with as I kept on blurting it with frustration from my cube this Spring while I was testing solutions for deploying and managing 100+ Macs. Throughout my years of dealing with different vendors, Apple always struck me as standoffish. Where other vendors would shower you with freebies and discounts at the sound of a possible increase in sales, Apple never budged. So, how can a company with that attitude be getting close to surpassing Exxon as World’s most valuable company?
Naturally there’s a lot of chatter about this with all sorts of financial analysis and discussions about the emergence of mobile computing. Everyone’s providing numbers and ideas to explain the rise of Apple to those unprecedented levels. As a consumer of Apple products, I can’t ignore Apple’s ingenuity, breathtaking designs and attention to functionality. I’ve experienced this first hand with my dad, who’s never bothered with using a computer before being introduced to the iPad and now it doesn’t leave his side. Not to undermine all this, but there’s an undercurrent that I think has been missed or hasn’t been talked about when talking about the success that Apple has achieved this decade.
What’s in a name?
When the first iMac was introduced in 1998, Steve Jobs said that the ‘i’ in iMac stood for: “The excitement of the internet”. He also went on to say that i is for “internet, individual, instruct, inform, inspire”. I for Individual! Apple didn’t adapt its products or invest heavily in tools to ease enterprise deployment because they already foresaw the demise of that model. I’ve previously written about this in my last post. Apple didn’t go after the enterprise because they felt the sweeping undercurrent and designed their line of products accordingly. They rode that Wave to tremendous success. iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad … the i Wave!
In here I have to borrow from the Tofflers and their work discussing wealth systems. According to the Tofflers, the first wealth system or wave was the introduction of agriculture that produced a way to create wealth and was known as the agrarian civilization. The second wealth system brought “mass production, mass education, mass media and mass culture”. The second wave was built on “principles of standardization, specialization, synchronization … “. “Where the Second Wave wealth system brought massification, the Third Wave de-massifies production, markets and society” (Alvin & Heidi Toffler, Revolutionary Wealth, Kindle Chapter 3).
Each wave or wealth system impacted society and its nucleus, the family. A family during the agrarian period was what now label as the extended family. The father, mother, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents … With the rise of industrialization and the arrival of the second wave, the family shrunk and we had the nuclear family composed of father, mother, and children. With the arrival of the third wave, we start to recognize a diversity of family formats and the focus shifts to the individual.
So, it’s not about whether Apple’s ready for the enterprise or not, because the enterprise itself is redefining its relationship with the individual and formulating a new model of interacting and supporting those individuals. Apple saw the approaching wave, anchored their product line to revolve around the individual and are currently reaping what they sow.