Seven Reasons to Think Twice About Macs in the Enterprise

Apple commercials show the ultra-cool Mac mocking the pinstriped PC. Macs, it seems, don't care to be businesslike--they'd rather be up late mixing video. And there are other, more pragmatic reasons to keep them out of the enterprise--reasons that a penny-pinching CFO would understand.

The Macintosh is not a machine that has made major inroads into the enterprise, except in specific niches, and, religious fervor of the Mac faithful notwithstanding, there are sound reasons for the phenomenon.

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Before you Mac enthusiasts break out the boiling oil and pitchforks, take a deep breath and repeat after me: "No one platform is perfect for every application." That's right, even your beloved Mac has its own Achilles' heels.

Our goal here is to discuss why the Mac and the enterprise don't necessarily mix well, couched in terms the enterprise knows best: dollars, either direct or indirect. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride-here are seven reasons why enterprises should think twice before deploying Macs.

Think the argument in this article is a load of hooey? Believe that it's the most accurate examination of the Mac in the enterprise? Be sure to read the other viewpoint in Eight Financial Reasons Why You Should Use Mac OS.

1. The Mac is proprietary. Even the Intel Mac. No one else is allowed to build them. If something happens to Apple (not necessarily taking the company down, but even an issue with its suppliers that impacts production), customers will be stuck in a nasty situation. Granted, I'm sure third parties would leap forward to take up the slack in maintenance if Apple disappeared, as has happened with other orphaned systems, but the transition would leave corporations vulnerable. And they would be without a source of replacement systems and parts, hence forced to do expensive, probably abrupt and unwanted technology transitions.

2. There's a limited selection of models and configurations. If what Apple offers doesn't suit your needs, you're out of luck (see reason #1) -you either have to go with an inadequate configuration and lose productivity, or spend extra money for unnecessary oomph. The selection is better than it used to be (and you can even reconfigure some models, as you can PCs), but you don't have the scope you'd have with a PC. For example, there are three basic MacBook Pro models, while Dell currently offers nine Latitude (enterprise-class laptop) models.

3. Hardware still costs more. For example, check out this comparison of a MacBook Pro and a Dell Latitude D830, configured to be as close to identical as possible. These are list prices; for quantity purchases, corporate discounts depending on overall purchase volumes would obviously apply.

Apple MacBook Pro Dell Latitude D830
CPU Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz
Display 15.4" 15.4"
Video NVidia 8600, 128 MB NVidia Quadro 128 MB
RAM 2 GB DDR2 667 2 GB DDR2 667
Hard disk 120 GB 5400 RPM SATA 120 GB 5400 RPM SATA
Optical 8X DL SuperDrive 8X DVD-RW
Ethernet Gigabit Gigabit
Wireless 802.11n 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Yes Yes
PC Card No Yes
ExpressCard ExpressCard/34 ExpressCard/54 & 34
USB ports 2 3
FireWire 2 1
Modem External Internal
Camera Yes No
Warranty 1 yr std, exp to 3 yrs 3 yrs
Weight 5.4 lb 5.97 lb
Price as configured $2397 $1868
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