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BYOD boosts Macs vs. PCs

New management tools remove last barrier to widespread Mac adoption in the enterprise

By John S. Webster, Network World
February 19, 2013 12:07 AM ET

Network World - The emergence of BYOD policies and virtual desktop platforms, plus new integration and management tools, have removed the final barriers to widespread Mac adoption in the enterprise.

And while Macs still cost more than PCs, IT shops are looking at the bigger ROI picture and figuring that improvements in employee productivity, reduced help desk costs and better inherent security can offset the higher sticker price.

"Over the past 15 years, Apple targeted every argument against them and made them moot,'' says Matt Heric, CEO at IAVO Scientific, an engineering software development company in Durham, N.C.

After being a 100% PC shop, IAVO employees are now all on Macs. This even includes the company's engineers, who once thought PCs would remain the primary tool in software engineering. (Watch a slideshow version of this story.)

[HISTORY: The Mac evolution]

Analysts are predicting that 2013 will be a big year for Macs in the enterprise. In a report released in mid-2012, Gartner forecasted that the Mac would see more than 20% year-over-year growth in the business market, while the PC would see about a 5% drop.

GE brings the Mac to life

General Electric has about 330,000 computers on employee desktops, of which only 2,500 are Macs. But those Mac numbers should trend upward as more employees take advantage of an employee choice program, says CTO Gregory Simpson.

When we were having BYOD discussions employees said they wanted a choice. We had two PC vendors and Apple ticked up in part because the form factor was attractive even to PC users

"When we were having BYOD discussions employees said they wanted a choice. At the time, we wanted to be a single-platform shop so we could get scale pricing. But with the Mac, we could buy a whole bunch or just a few, so that didn't matter. We had two PC vendors and Apple ticked up in part because the form factor was attractive even to PC users," he says.

He says another factor in offering Macs as a choice was the growth of iPhones at GE. The company had 10,000 in August of 2011, and that grew to 30,000 in August 2012.

What's more, the company's new employee choice program and support of both iPhones and Macs have become a positive recruiting tool because it communicates that it is a contemporary company, he says.

Forrester released a report in September detailing why more large companies are turning to the Mac. "One thing we found is it's clear that there's more confidence in the Mac for the perception of security -- it's more secure than a Windows machine. That's hard to argue, because historically there have been relatively few intrusions on the Mac," says analyst Dave Johnson, the report's primary author.

Cisco was a leader in bringing Macs into the enterprise. The company now has 28,000 Macs out of an installed base of about 80,000 PCs.

"We're seeing a change in the make up of PCs vs. Macs that are not employee owned, but company owned. We are seeing a shift toward Macs,'' says Sheila Johnson, a senior vice president at the company.

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