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How Apple's consumer software miscues hinder it in the enterprise

Matt Kapko | Feb. 19, 2016
Apple faces mounting criticism aimed at the quality of its online service for consumers and the pace of innovation associated with offerings such as iCloud. If the company can't do cloud services right in the consumer market, is it doomed in the enterprise?

In addition to challenges related to online services, Apple is also trying to divert investor attention away from its shrinking device sales numbers. "This is a big reason for Apple's recent emphasis on its services business and the power of its installed base," wrote Jan Dawson, chief analyst and founder of tech research firm Jackdaw, in a recent column. "Apple wants investors to see that at least part of its long-term trajectory is more predictable than it appears because of its ability to generate revenue off the back of its installed base of a billion devices."

Apple hasn't announced specific plans for business apps or services, but the ways users perceive these consumer-facing efforts today will influence the company's chances for future success in enterprise. However, the longer it waits, the steeper the slope it must climb to compete. Forrester Research's Voce says the enterprise communication and collaboration market is already extremely competitive and complex. "Microsoft, and even Google, just have tremendous head starts with email and other communication, authoring and collaboration services."

Google gained traction in enterprise when it introduced consumers to the free Gmail experience more than a decade ago, according to Voce. Microsoft is also way ahead of Apple in business. The "Office family is such a powerful force and [the company's] moves to ensure non-Microsoft devices (including Apple's) play better with their services only helps them grow stronger."

Apple clearly faces an uphill battle in its competition with Microsoft and Google when it comes to enterprise services, according to Voce. While the company often thrives in the role of challenger, this time it won’t be attacking from a position of strength.

 

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