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Friday, June 10th, 2011 marked an interesting day for me: the day I became certain that supporting Apple systems will become a significant part of what we do at Fully Managed™.
Apple's recent announcements on iOS5, iCloud and OSX Lion are incredibly meaningful. Before going any further, read my friend Miguel Carrasco's post: Thoughts on the Future of our Industry to see how a Microsoft MVP software developer sees things progressing. People predicted that Apple's iPhone and other beautiful looking products would take away market share from competitors, but I don't think anyone predicted just how deep the rabbit hole could go. So, without further ado...
Long story short: Apple has done it again. Their lofty vision, laser-focused strategy and no-compromise execution has landed them in a position where they now have the opportunity and more importantly the platform to become a permanent fixture in the historically "Mac-free" business network. If their stock wasn't North of $325 a share, I'd probably buy some right now. Here are a couple of interesting stats to consider:
A few thoughts on these (approximate) stats:
As a single operating system for iPhone and iPad devices, iOS5 will bring further social and productivity and "worry free-ness" to those few hundred million users, pretty much overnight. Features like WiFi and iCloud sync mean we can now walk around with these smart devices with no concerns about synchronizing the content between them or backing them up. As an aside, iMessage will in one fell swoop pretty much destroy RIM. Thank you Apple for taking care of those who rely on BBM, the only remaining task to convert 100% of Blackberry users is to release an iPhone with a sliding keyboard. Stranger things have happened.
Apple has done an amazing job of thinking this through and deeply integrating the cloud with iPhone and iPad. To quote Apple, iCloud "stores your content wirelessly and pushes it to all your devices". iCloud will allow you to keep your devices backed up, your content ubiquitous and your entire music collection online (for a ridiculously cheap $24.99 per year). Kudos to Apple for inking the necessary deals with the record labels to allow this, I am in awe of your legal team.
Mac OS X Lion has been announced and includes many innovative features such as Resume (re-open apps exactly where you left off), Auto Save & Versions (application independent), Time Machine with Internet restore, the Mac App Store. Probably the biggest new feature, however, is the fact that Lion brings touch, full screen apps to the Mac - basically turning your Mac into a giant iPhone or iPad. As these devices get released with touch screens, guess what? Your iPhone, your iPad, your iMac and your MacBook will all have a consistent, touch interface. Your apps will all work the same way, and I suspect we will (soon) see a convergence of apps that you can buy once and use everywhere.
We are getting very close to a pivotal moment in business computing, accelerated in large part by Apple. iPhone and iPad devices now have a significant presence in business, primarily because many of us have these devices in our pockets/bags already. As consumers of this technology, we logically ask questions like "Can I hook my iPad up to SharePoint?". Software developers are being forced to support these devices because failure to do so means they'll instantly alienate 28% of mobile and 75% of tablet users.
It doesn't stop here. People are so comfortable and happy accessing information on these devices that there is a trickle effect, and the obvious next question becomes: "Can I just get a Mac and hook it up to our network?" Whether you like it or not, the answer is rapidly becoming YES - and it's only going to get worse (or better, depending on how you look at it). On top of that, with all of our information rapidly moving into the cloud it's becoming less important the operating system (or even device) you choose to access that information from.
Once all devices are compatible with the back-end systems we need to access, the choice of which we go with simply comes down to other factors like price, performance, security, reliability, etc. If you like the look and feel of an iPhone/iPad and you can get a similar experience on their laptop / desktop PC it is only logical that - assuming you can access everything you need to - you may very well select a Mac. I think this is a very good thing for the industry, and I embrace this competition wholeheartedly. People deserve to use the best, most functional, most comfortable devices they can - whether that's a Windows 8 tablet or an iPad 4. For us as a Managed Services Provider (MSP), it means we need to be good at supporting the wide array of devices that our clients will choose to use to access their information. If we can shift the effort spent supporting workstations to more strategic technology initiatives, we will all reap the benefits.