by Sachin Balagopalan on May 2, 2008 · Comments

Couple of weeks ago my wife told me they were replacing her laptop at work with a new one. However this time she lacked the usual enthusiasm that follows when she hears about a laptop upgrade at work - “It’s going to have Vista on it” she said with a frown on her face. This week I’m in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan visiting my buddy and his family. Last night I was chatting with his 14 year old daughter about potential colleges that she might be interested in (yeah I know - she’s only 14 and talking about colleges already? :) ) and she said “I like that college because they support Macs and require everyone to get one - Macs are really cool!” with a big grin on her face.  

These two comments from my wife and friends daughter pretty much sums up the current issue of Business Week’s cover story. People at the work place are increasingly becoming disenchanted with Microsoft windows and the younger generation who are in college (or getting ready for college) are going to demand Macs when they enter the work force. It’s already happening as the Business Week piece states.

Apple is getting help from an unlikely rival: Microsoft. Vista, the latest version of the software giant’s Windows operating system, looks like it could turn out to be one of the great missteps in tech history. Not only does it lack compelling new features, but analysts say Vista requires companies to buy more expensive PCs, incur hefty training costs, and to deal with maddening glitches. About 90% of office workers still use its previous operating system, XP. “Microsoft has let this happen,” says David B. Yoffie, a Harvard Business School professor and Intel board member. “They’ve created a huge opening for Apple.”

I disagree with the Harvard professor - IMO opinion the Macs entry into the work place is inevitable and bound to happen sooner or later as hoards of college graduates enter the workforce. The “shortcomings” of Vista simply accelerates it. The irony is Apple isn’t even trying to penetrate the corporate world. In fact their mission is to focus on the consumer and the next coolest product. I’m not sure if that was a deliberate strategy by Jobs & Co but it looks like it’s working.

Millions of consumers are seeing the Mac in a new light. Once an object of devotion for students and artists, the Mac is becoming the first choice of many. Surging demand for the machines led Apple to predict revenues will rise 33% in the second quarter, to $7.2 billion, even in the face of an economic slowdown.

What’s less obvious is that the enthusiasm is starting to spill over into the corporate market. It’s a people’s revolution, of sorts, with workers increasingly pressing their employers to let them use Macs in the office. 

I think Steve Jobs and Apple might have the last laugh of this one given the history between Apple and Microsoft. I mean who could have thunk it? Once upon a time it was the workplace computer that dictated your choice when you purchased your home/family computer - typically a windows machine. It seems the tide has turned and now it’s the other way around! One fact that seemed to escape everyone’s radar so speak is that the “consumer is king” and that very consumer is also your typical office worker. As corporations seek to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of their employees they might have to acquiesce to the demand of their employees.


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