Having posted its all-time quarter record revenue of $111.4 billion this week, Apple is looking for ways to expand. The company's CEO, Tim Cook, sees selling Macs to businesses as one of the main growth opportunities for Apple, especially with the Apple M1 chip and its successors in tow. But with Intel appealing to businesses with vPro and AMD attempting to do the same with Ryzen Pro, there's work to do.
Apple has significantly increased its global PC market share from around 3.6% in Q1 2010 to 8.2% in 2020, due to wide adoption of Macs by consumers. Being the world's fourth largest PC supplier, Apple is still considerably behind Dell, which commanded 16.4% of the market last year, but noticeably ahead of companies Acer and Asus, which controlled around 6% of the market each.
The Big Three PC makers, Lenovo, HP and Dell, all have large businesses selling to enterprise customers. So it makes sense for the Cupertino, California-based company to eye business PC sales.
"We have been on a multi-year effort in the enterprise and have gained quite a bit of traction there," Cook said during Apple's quarterly conference call with analysts and investors, as reported by CRN. "We are very optimistic about what we can do in that space."
Indeed, Apple has been trying to tap into the enterprise for quite a while. In 2014, it inked the IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions pact in a bid to offer specialized apps, services, tools and management services for iPhones and iPads used by various enterprises, such as SAS. In 2015, the two companies expanded their collaboration to Mac PCs with the Mac@Work program. IBM had over 290,000 Apple devices in its own fleet as of late 2019, which was still below IBM's headcount of 352,600 that year.
In addition to IBM, there are multiple Apple Mac-focused managed service providers (MSPs) who have been witnessing increasing adoption of Apple's devices by various companies in the recent years.
"We have seen an increase in Mac purchases by our clients--not only the ones that already depend on Apple and the macOS, but also clients that have traditionally been on Windows," Jim Harryman, CEO of Kinetic Technology Group, a Mac-focused MSP, told CRN. "We see [Apple products] creeping into those companies as well and starting to take hold in areas that you wouldn't traditionally think."
Apple M1: A New Enterprise Opportunity?
Business-focused PCs from companies like Lenovo, HP, and Dell mostly rely on Intel's vPro, with some opting for AMD Pro. They support a host of security and management technologies that are exceptionally handy for the target market. But even with Intel processors inside Macs, Apple's platform is much different on the hardware side of matters and obviously different from Windows and Linux on the software side of things. Therefore, Apple has never supported Intel vPro or AMD Pro. This, perhaps, has been a barrier to entry for Macs in enterprises.
Now that Apple is transitioning its own system-on-chips (SoCs) and released the M1 and is moving to a system architecture it controls almost completely, it can potentially develop a vPro or AMD Pro-like platform with enhanced security and robust management technologies, which will make it more competitive against The Big Three PC OEMs.
AMD's Pro platform supports capabilities like Transparent Secure Memory Encryption (TSME) to protect against snooping while data is processed. That's something that Apple hasn't talked about publicly in terms of its security technologies. With its own silicon, Apple is much better equipped to introduce such features and support them across its hardware and software.
"We are also pleased with the rapid adoption of the Mac employee choice program among the world’s leading businesses," Luca Maestri, CFO of Apple, said during Apple's quarterly call. "With the introduction of M1-powered Macs, we are excited to extend these experiences to an even broader range of customers and employees, especially in times of increased remote working."
Cook admitted that Apple's share on the PC market is "quite low in the total personal computer market" and said that the company's own processors opened up new growth opportunities.
"[The M1] gives us a new growth trajectory that we have not had in the past for the Mac," Cook said.