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Frank Cioffi

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Apple in the Enterprise Survey: Up, Up and Away! But Where's the Enterprise Support?

Posted: 07/16/10 11:40 AM ET

Surprise! This blog is NOT about iPhone 4 antenna problems, though it's amazing how this issue has not slowed the torrid pace of iPhone sales. Apple also has few worries with its business audience based on a just-released survey of IT managers.

ITIC, a Boston-area technology research and consulting firm, along with Sunbelt Software, has been tracking enterprise adoption of Apple products for three years now. The 2010 survey, just out today, shows some powerful acceleration of Apple product purchases in business.

Here are a few topline results from the global survey of over 600 IT managers:

• 79 percent said they are "more likely to allow more users to deploy Macintoshes as their enterprise desktops" in 2010-2011, up from 68 percent in ITIC's 2009 survey.

• 24 percent, who did not currently own an iPhone, said they "have already decided" or are "very likely to switch" with an additional 35 percent saying "it's possible we'll switch when the current contract expires."

• 23 percent said they have "already purchased" or "already ordered" an iPad. 18 percent more say they "plan to purchase an iPad" within one year.

A more complete rundown of survey results can be found at Tech Investor News.

I chatted with ITIC principal analyst, Laura DiDio, a longtime tech analyst covering operating systems and technology trends, who noted that "the growing popularity of Apple products in the personal lives of IT managers is having a continued spillover effect in the enterprise."

This is one of the survey's major take-aways as 80 percent of survey respondents, ranging from mid-level to C-level positions at small to very large companies, use their Macs, iPhones and iPads for both personal and professional pursuits.

DiDio suggests that "the acceleration of interest in Apple products compared to our previous surveys tells me this trend will continue unabated during the next 12 to 18 months." Remember when the iPod was first gaining ground and we all wondered about if it would have a consumer "halo effect" on the Mac? Well, DiDio's survey clearly shows this same effect is happening with business customers, big time.

"Noteworthy is the survey participants' strong interest and enthusiasm for the iPad, a product just a few months old," adds Stu Sjouwerman, Editor of Sunbelt Software's WServerNews electronic newsletter. This fast start for the iPad is indeed stunning, as IT managers tend to be slow adopters of new platforms.

But with business-level success comes added responsibility, as IT managers also noted Apple's lack of enterprise-class third-party management or performance tools and technical support. Enterprise customers expect this level of support which Apple, as a consumer-focused company, does not provide. DiDio thinks that must soon change.

"Apple will have to address these issues if it is to mount a serious challenge to Microsoft's enterprise dominance. But so far, Apple has been silent about its enterprise strategy."