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Not so fast, Gartner: Apple's unlikely to challenge Microsoft in the enterprise

Gartner predicts Apple will soon challenge Microsoft in the enterprise. However, that doesn't seem like such a sure thing.

Apple is undoubtedly the winner of the BYOD revolution as the Apple faithful get to bring their overpriced toys to work. The tech press was actually one of the first industries to do this, as I saw reporters using Macs at events in the San Francisco area years before BYOD took off, and I knew their employers did not issue Mac hardware.

Apple has no enterprise strategy or formal support. Steve Jobs once said he hated the enterprise, and I know why: enterprise firms want roadmaps. They want to know what you're up to and planning for the next few years so they can plan, and he doesn't like to let that kind of information out.

But Apple is still gaining ground in the enterprise, and Gartner predicts that next year, the levees will break and Apple will begin a full-on assault of the enterprise. In a report titled "Predicts 2013: Mobility Becomes a Broad-Based Ingredient for Change," Gartner predicts that, by 2014, Macs will be "as accepted in enterprises as Microsoft machines are today."

But how Gartner reaches that conclusion is a bit unclear. David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow, said that Apple will continue to benefit from consumerization and will continue to evolve Macs to take on more iOS characteristics, which will contribute to and accelerate the acceptance of Macs in the enterprise.

That's a bit of a stretch. The Mac is almost an oddball in the Apple product line in that it's the only non-iOS product the company sells, and one iOS developer tells me that if he were to port his app to Mac OS X, he might as well start from scratch because it's essentially a whole new app.

But Smith is implying that Mac OS is going to move toward iOS in the future, when Apple has given no such hints and never does. In fact, Tim Cook has said the opposite to BusinessWeek:

"We don't subscribe to the vision that the OS for iPhones and iPads should be the same as Mac. As you know, iOS and Mac OS are built on the same base…Customers want iOS and Mac OS X to work together seamlessly, not to be the same, but to work together seamlessly."

So Gartner is either predicting that Tim Cook will change course or implying that he either misspoke in the above quote or engaged in intentional misdirection.

I just don't buy it. Enterprises are still getting their arms around supporting iPads and iPhones. Macs would be a whole other element to support, one capable of carrying large amounts of company data. They will want remote access and secure erase.

Tim Cook is an ex-IBMer, and I doubt he carries Steve's dislike for the enterprise, even after all these years. It would be a pleasant surprise if in the next few years we start to see some forms of enterprise support creep into Apple products.

But a wholesale assault on the enterprise seems unlikely.

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