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In a clear indication of Apple’s continuing strength with business customers, a new survey of enterprise technology managers shows accelerating interest in purchasing first-time or additional Mac OS computers and iPhones.
Satisfaction with the performance, reliability and security of Apple devices – particularly Mac hardware, OS X 10.x operating systems and the iPhone 3 and 4 (the antenna problems of the newest iPhone 4 notwithstanding) were very high. On average, approximately two-thirds of the survey participants rated the performance and reliability of Apple devices as “Excellent” or “Very Good.”
In addition, the survey responses validate the record breaking iPad sales statistics. As of June 22, Apple said it had sold over three million iPads in the 80 days since its’ April release. The figure is presumably much higher today. The ITIC/Sunbelt survey also found that the iPad is off to a very strong start, with 23 percent or nearly one in four IT managers stating they’ve already purchased or ordered the new Apple tablet. Another 18 percent said they plan to purchase an iPad within the next nine months, while just over half – 51 percent — said they have no definitive timetable. The remaining 8 percent said they plan to wait until Apple cuts the iPad prices for the first time.
And 86% of the respondents who have already bought an iPad say they are using it for both personal and business functions.
The responses to the question, “How often do you or your business experience technical issues with Apple products/devices?” were very positive and encouraging. Some 12 percent said they never had any problems; 50 percent or half the respondents said they “rarely” experienced problems; 20 percent said they “occasionally” encountered technical issues every few months; 5 percent said “once a month;” 6 percent said “two or three times per month;” 5percent said “regularly or once a week,” while a very small 2 percent minority indicated they/their businesses encountered technical issues on a daily basis.

Among the other survey highlights:
• Nearly two-thirds of respondents — 63 percent — indicated they/their organizations use the various Apple devices for both personal and business functions.
• An overwhelming 82 percent majority of survey participants said they use their iPhones to access corporate Email and data.
• 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.”
• Eight out of 10 organizations said they are “more likely to allow more users to deploy Macintoshes as their enterprise desktops” in 2010-2011, up from 68 percent in the 2009 survey.
• The number of organizations reporting large complements of Macs and OS X 10.x in their organizations continues to climb. Some 7 percent of respondents said they have more than 250 Macs in their enterprise. In the 2008 survey, only 2 percent had more than 250 Macs.
• The percentage of mobile/remote users using Apple devices is rising quickly & significantly
• The line between Apple consumer and enterprise usage continues to blur : 79 percent of survey respondents said that their firms will increase integration with existing Apple consumer products such as the iPhone to allow users to access corporate e-mail and other applications in the 2010-2011 timeframe. This is an 11 percent increase from the 68 percent of respondents who answered that query in the ITIC/Sunbelt 2009 Apple Enterprise Usage survey.

The growing popularity of Apple products in the personal lives of IT managers is having a continued spillover effect in the enterprise. The acceleration of interest compared to our previous surveys tells me this trend will continue unabated during the next 12 to 18 months.

This is the third Apple Consumer and Enterprise Survey conducted by ITIC and Sunbelt since 2008. Each successive survey has shown a steady increase in both the number of Macs and Apple devices being deployed by corporate enterprises. ITIC will release the results of additional survey questions on Apple product satisfaction, reliability, security and ease of adoption/integration in August, 2010.
Particularly noteworthy is the survey participants’ strong interest and enthusiasm for the iPad, a product just a few months old. Plus the already strong iPhone adoption will continue as old wireless contracts expire. One can only project that if iPhone becomes available on Verizon in the U.S., the numbers of additional enterprise-based units could be staggering.
Thus far, consumer and corporate users appear to be nonplussed and largely unaffected by the iPhone 4’s much publicized antenna problems which have led to reports of dropped calls the essay comments and first person customer interviews. First person customers interviews on the topic have elicited little more than a shrug. One user said, “So what? All mobile phones and PDAs drop calls.”
Still, Apple must respond decisively and quickly to address any performance, quality and reliability issues related to any and all of its products. Apple has a press conference scheduled for later today to address the issues.
At present however, these issues do not appear to be having an adverse impact on iPhone 4 sales.
With Apple’s enterprise success though, will come new challenges. IT managers who participated in the ITIC/Sunbelt survey extolled the features and functions of the Apple Macs, OS X 10.x, iPhone and iPad for consumers. However, as more and more Apple devices make their way into the enterprise, the lack of enterprise-class third-party management and performance-enhancement tools and technical support is becoming a significant barrier and impediment to widespread enterprise adoption. It is not as problematic though, for organizations that currently have just a few Macs or isolated pockets of Macs and OS X 10.x in specific departments such as graphics. Still, Apple will have to address these issues if it is to mount a serious challenge to Microsoft’s dominance. So far, the company has been silent about its enterprise strategy.
A new consortium of five third-party vendors calling itself the Enterprise Desktop Alliance (EDA) has taken the lead to promote the management, integration and interoperability capabilities of the Mac in corporate environments. Apple is well advised to forge a closer relationship with the EDA and its member organizations to foster greater third party integration and interoperability between Apple devices and rival platforms.
Part 2 of the Apple survey results as they relate to security issues will appear in a subsequent blog.