While manufacturers attempt to find their footing on the shifting ground that is the declining PC business, it seems IBM and Apple are ready to deliver a final leg sweep to the market as they tout some rather impressive numbers regarding Macs in the workspace.
A new enterprise future?
According to IBM, with the deployment of Macs to its workforce, the company has managed to save up to $535.00 over the course of four years, which is up from its previous forecast of $270 a device last year. The numbers were given to a rather larger audience at the seventh Jamf Nation User Conference in Minneapolis, MN this year.
IBM’s VP of Workplace as Service, Fletcher Previn continued the endorsement of Mac deployments in the enterprise by extrapolating the numbers of the company’s own successful rollout that include “90,000 employees are now using Macs, up from 30,000 in 2015. 100,000 of IBM’s global workforce will be using Macs by the end of the year, he said, and the number is climbing,” as reported by COMPUTERWORLD.
Previn continues by saying, “Not only has the company been saving between $264-$535 for each Mac deployment over four years, but just 3.5 percent of employees using a Mac will call the company help desk. Give employees the devices they want, manage those devices in a modern way, and drive self-sufficiency in the environment.”
Back to reality
While there is no denying IBM’s numbers and the chorus of anecdotal IT stories which echo a similar theme, there are few key factors to consider as IBM makes its pitch for Macs in the workplace.
IBM’s ringing endorsement of Macs in the workplace would seem to be a shot across the bow at Microsoft, and its OEM partners who have traditionally feasted on the enterprise space. However, what wasn’t mentioned at the conference and will probably be absent from most of the reporting on this announcement was the exclusive deal struck by Apple and IBM back in 2014.
Two years ago, IBM and Apple announced an exclusive partnership between the two companies that would have IBM creating and developing mobile apps for the iPhone and iPad. The “IBM MobileFirst for iOS agreement” was designed as a way for IBM to sell iPhones and iPads with “industry-specific solutions” to businesses. In 2014, Microsoft had yet to ink a deal with Xamarin, leaving Macs to be the only environment accessible for iPad and iPhone development. In short, IBM had to issue Macs to its employees to fulfill its part of the exclusive deal.
On that note, IBM also posted its eighteenth consecutive quarter of declining revenue yesterday, indicating that its declines in legacy software business are outpacing its iPhone and iPad piggybacking initiative thus far.
Also, despite IBM’s anecdotal experience issuing Macs to its employees, the entire personal computing industry has undergone its eighth consecutive quarter of declines, with the Apple showing -13.4 growth compared to its previous year, according to Gartner. While, Macs may be proving profitable for IBM and its employees, it appears most companies are sticking to their current Windows-based devices as a whole and shifting their processes and applications to more cloud-based environments where cloud servers and the internet prop up legacy hardware. To that effect, during IBM’s latest earnings report, it was the company’s cloud growth that showed signs of promise in the face of declining legacy software and hardware sales.
With that being said, IBM may be issuing Macs to its employees, but it seems the company also has the foresight to sell devices its customers are asking for as it inked a deal with Microsoft earlier this year to also become a Surface reseller.
"According to Murray Mitchell, the exec in charge of IBM's services partnership with Microsoft, this particular partnership came about simply because its customers were asking for Surface products — most businesses are neither all-Apple or all-Microsoft, so it's important to provide the mix." -Business Insider
Lastly, Previn's comments seem to be placed against current market projections and have yet to prove themselves as the switch to Macs for the company have only been in effect since 2015 thus sidestepping the more nuanced complications of calculating virtualization, residual and development investment cost as companies choose between building client based applications versus cloud or browser based apps.
In the end, Macs may prove to be cost effective for some companies depending on their needs, workflows and setups, however, in a growing software ubiquitous era where mobile devices continue to augmenting enterprise environments and businesses are moving to the cloud, pitching Mac and PC deployment numbers is beginning to seem unnecessary.