Computerworld: Mac OS X an ideal platform for Small Business

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By: switchtoamac at: 1:50 PM on March 2, 2007 | Comments (0)
In a March 1, 2007 post titled "Opinion: Mac OS X 'an ideal platform' for SMBs", Computerworld states that Apple's upcoming Mac OS X Leopard Server operating system "could be a boon for smaller firms"
In a well written and example filled article, Ryan Faas does a great job of demonstrating the value Mac OS X Server presents to small businesses.  He starts off the article by giving some history about the use of Macs in a business setting.  He transitions into an explanation of how security issues plaguing Windows PCs are frustrating business owners.

The following quotes from the article demonstrate these points;
"Historically, Macs and small business aren't often associated with each other. Yet smaller firms seem to be one of the markets Apple is targeting with Mac OS X Leopard Server. Leopard Server's new Server Preferences interface is designed primarily for small businesses, which often need some of the features of a server but don't have the budget for dedicated hardware or an IT specialist. Apple has also been targeting small businesses with a special section of its Web site and with special events in its retail stores to educate users and business owners about how Mac OS X can be used"

"In many ways, Mac OS X is an ideal platform for small businesses and offices. It is easy to install and set up, often requires little technical support to maintain, and remains free of many of the virus and malware problems that plague Windows PCs. All of this should be appealing for a business with anywhere from a handful to a few dozen employees that cannot afford full-time IT staff."

"Many business owners are "just fed up" with issues like viruses and crashes that reduce productivity and increase ownership costs, he said. Jetha also pointed out that about 50% of his new customers are switchers -- businesses that once used Windows"

"He also described the Mac's overall total cost of ownership (TCO) as its primary advantage for small business, both because of the lower overall cost to support Macs and because businesses can often "hang on to their Macs longer."

"While lower TCO and fewer problems are advantages to Mac OS X for small businesses, they don't account for a recent surge in Macs as business machines. That can be attributed mostly to Apple's transition to Intel processors and the fact that its hardware can now run Windows applications for those times when a comparable Mac-related product isn't available. The ability to use Apple's Boot Camp or one of the other virtualization tools to run Windows applications also helps stagger transition costs as businesses buy and migrate to Mac hardware and software."

Faas moves on to discuss hows Macs are easy to setup, maintain, network, and are used in retail, law, medical, and dental settings.  The article moves to a discussion of software for accounting, projects, invoices, scheduling, and productivity.

Faas mentions the contact and calendar feature in the upcoming Leopard Server operating system when he states, "Of course, no discussion of contact and calendar management for Mac OS X would be complete without mentioning Leopard Server, which will make it easy for small businesses to create a central contact and calendar server that seamlessly integrates with iCal, Address Book and Mail."

Small business interested in a professional telephony solution should consider a Mac.  Fass goes into a discussion of Parliant's PhoneValet and PhoneHerald business tools.  He states:

"PhoneValet turns a Mac into a powerful phone system, complete with voice mail, on-screen call notifications, phone trees and rules that can be used to divert calls or offer custom messages based on caller ID information or call time."

"PhoneHerald, leverages Mac OS X's text-to-speech technology to allow companies to automate the process of making outbound calls for tasks such as confirming appointments or notifying people about changes or cancellations of meetings or events."

In my view, the following statement from Faas is the key to putting forth the point that Macs are a viable option for today's small businesses:

"Perhaps the biggest misconception about the Mac in small business is that it is a computer for home users, educators and graphics/media design, and that there simply aren't any business tools available to Mac users. That might have been the case in the past, but that is certainly not true today"

It's a highly recommended article that can be found at Computerworld
Switch To A Mac Commentary
It's been our position that Macs running OS X should be given consideration by businesses large and small.  We've made numerous references to businesses in our analysis of Apple's earnings reports since the inception of this site.  Furthermore, we've stated that we expected businesses to consider Macs following the release of Intel-based Macs, Boot Camp, and virtualization programs.

In our view, the Mac has begun to establish a footprint in the enterprise and this trend will gain momentum.  New Macs, OS X Leopard, and OS X Leopard Server will fuel this growth.  Microsoft's traditional stranglehold on the enterprise will soon begin to unravel as Apple becomes a more cost-effective and viable option for businesses.

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