Is Boot Camp really Apple's big play for the enterprise desktop?
No. The enterprise desktop is a commodity world. The commodity PC market is a cut-throat business with razor-thin margins in which vendors have no way to differentiate themselves except with low prices. Apple doesn't do commodities. Apple sells comfort and convenience to mid-market users and luxury to the high end. But the commodity desktop? Forget it.
There -- that was easy, wasn't it? And now that the bogus question of the week is out of the way, let's look at the biggest reason Boot Camp does matter to corporate IT shops.
Here's a hint: You'll find him sitting in a corner office.
You know who I mean. Maybe he's your CEO. Maybe he's some other can't-say-no-to-him executive. The one who's got to have the pricey laptop that never leaves the office. And the big, expensive LCD monitor that never displays more than one window at a time. And the best -- or at least spendiest -- of everything else.
In the past, when Mr. Gotta Have It wanted one of those stylish Macinthings, you could beg off with the fact that it didn't work with your corporate e-mail system, corporate intranet and key corporate applications. Now that excuse is gone. With all the press coverage of Boot Camp, every Gotta Have It knows this isn't merely a hacker gimmick or a sort of imitation. It's real Windows XP. It can run all your standard corporate stuff.
More important, it's too expensive for the rabble to have in their cubicles. Ergo, it's a status symbol. Gotta have it.
And you've got to support it. Maybe just the one, maybe a few more if it catches on as a much-desired executive perk. Don't worry, the Macs won't spread too widely. The Gotta Have It crowd won't want everybody to have one, or it'll lose its value as a status symbol.
No, don't fight this. Let your big wheels have their toys. The Gotta Have Its can pay for them out of their own budgets. And they'll also subsidise the expertise you'll need for the Mac users doing real work.
I said they were the biggest reason -- not the most important.
See, while those big wheels see this as executive bling, some of your little-cog users are buying Macs as home computers. It's the iPod effect: They buy iPods, they love 'em, they form brand affinity for Apple, they decide to give Macs a try.
That is, after all, why Apple is adding the ability to run Windows to Mac OS: to make the transition a little easier for users who'd like to switch to Macs but are worried about losing their old PC files and applications. Boot Camp takes away some of the risk, letting users cross the chasm at their own pace and jump back whenever they feel the need to.
That's no way for Apple to take over the enterprise. It's unnecessary: when the whole organisation changes operating systems, the IT shop manages the transition. In fact, that kind of flexibility is a bad idea in a large-scale transition, where nobody wants individual users to hesitate or double back.
But when individual users need help logging in from home with their new Macs, that flexibility will come in very handy. Instead of the completely alien Macs that you just couldn't deal with in the past, your help desk will be able to treat them pretty much like any other Intel-based desktop PC running the latest version of Windows.
And better still, whatever tricky little hitches may show up, your help desk will have a big head start on solving them -- thanks to every Gotta Have It who's already demanded support for Boot Camp.
Everybody wins: your corner-office Gotta Have Its are happy because they get their fancy status symbols. Your regular users are happy because they get more choices and better support from IT.
And IT? We're happy that, even with Boot Camp, Apple isn't about to make a big play for the enterprise.
Just a few little corners of it.
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