Rumor Mill: Apple Layoffs, 10-inch iPod Touch

For CIOs, Apple rumors point to the ongoing challenge of supporting Apple products in a corporate environment.

The Apple rumor mill is running amok these days. Inside sources tell all about Apple layoffs and of a mysterious Apple device in the works, likely a large iPod Touch, rumored to hit the market this fall. (As always, there isn't a peep of confirmation out of Cupertino.)

And neither rumor is good news for CIOs.

[ Mac engineers lament Apple's poor enterprise support, CIO reports. | IT managers face Mac-Windows challenges. ]

Rumor No. 1: Your Apple sales rep has left the building.

Last week, Apple laid off about 50 salespeople, sources told CNET, Valleywag and 9to5Mac.com. While the number of layoffs is a drop in the bucket for Apple, CIOs will be interested in where they happened: the enterprise group.

Apple, of course, has never been keen on the enterprise market. Whether it's Apple ads poking fun of corporate IT or departures of enterprise execs like Al Shipp, it's no surprise that Apple's enterprise strategy is really to court consumers who, in turn, will bring Apple products to work.

"I am not surprised that Apple selected the enterprise area for their workforce reduction," says Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "A PC vendor needs to have dedicated infrastructure specific to the enterprise market, including a dedicated sales organization, account management team and customer support and care. It is costly a operation, and so there are very few true enterprise PC suppliers in the market."

The bottom line: There's simply no relief in sight for Mac engineers who must support the growing ranks of Macs in their Windows environment. Don't expect Apple, for instance, to get new computers into the hands of enterprises before they hit the market so that Mac engineers can certify them to run in their companies.

Rumor No. 2: The Newton strikes back.

Ah, that beloved corporate device, the Newton PDA. Rumor has it that Apple plans to bring it back in the form of a big-screen iPod Touch this fall. Everyone from Dow Jones to Reuters are reporting claims that Apple has bought 10-inch touchscreens from a Taiwanese manufacturer.

Industry watchers figure the device will tackle the electronic reader market and go head-to-head with Amazon's Kindle. For companies, though, such a device likely won't make much of a splash. PDAs, for instance, only carved niches in places like hospitals. And execs probably won't flip out over the things like they did with the iPhone.

But this doesn't mean other people won't bring these devices to work someday—and they'll be another Apple device to support for the unhappy Mac engineer.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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