Macworld Products That IT Executives Had Better Know About
Apple's offerings traditionally are considered consumer products. The exhibit hall at this year's Macworld conference, however, had a stronger business influence, with hardware and software that may excite even the most buttoned-down corporate IT departments.
Wed, January 16, 2008
CIO — Macworld used to be a consumer show. Macs were used primarily by individual users and perhaps some small businesses. Enterprise adoption was limited to the "creatives" (the weird guys with the earring and noticeable hairdo, who nevertheless could create marvelous marketing material) and to school districts where Apple hardware had a long history.
You might not recognize that reputation by this year's conference in San Francisco. Oh sure, there's plenty to keep an end user happy, from mailing label software to a Mac Bible concordance app to podcast creation tools. You'll still find an excess of iPod sleeves. And your creative departments are sure to come back with a long list of software they demand you add to the IT budget, such as graphics applications and Web tools.
But growing acceptance of Macintosh computers in the enterprise is evident across the show floor, reflected in several products to help IT departments manage and control the computers and business software. I spent an afternoon on the exhibit floor— emphatically not covering everything— and found these products that will matter to IT managers (for evil or for good).
Hits to the Hardware Budget
Let's start with the MacBook Air because, really, it's impossible not to. Even if your shop is committed to Windows, you will have staff clamoring for a MacBook Air. It positively reeks of cool. Anyone who travels often will drool over the 3-pound computer that's so thin that it fits into a manila envelope. (Though your IT security department is probably worrying about that capability, right about now.)
You've probably already seen the specs on the $1,799 MacBook Air: five hours of battery life, the first display with mercury- and arsenic-free glass, 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1, a multitouch trackpad like the iPhone (double-tap to move a photo, for example), built-in iSight webcam, full-size keyboard. I want one. So did the crowds surrounding the 40 MacBook Airs on the exhibit floor. So will your staff.
It won't be the only Apple hardware you're asked to buy. IT departments may not be thrilled about supporting the iPhone, but apparently it's an inevitability. During his keynote address yesterday, Steve Jobs said, "IPhone in its first 90 days of shipping garnered almost 20 percent market share of the smartphone market." Four million iPhones have been sold in their 200 days of availability— 20,000 iPhones a day. If your company hasn't formulated a strategy for iPhone support, you'd better get on the stick.