Apple and iPad: The Spreadsheet Warriors

The company bites Microsoft in future enterprise because of the utility of its products.

The latest Forrester Research data confirms that Apple [AAPL] has become a darling for enterprise users, with the drive to its solutions trickling down from the top of the company, where most of its existing enterprise users already sit.

As they improve, mobile devices are becoming more useful. Take spreadsheets for example, any hard-working CFO can now easily examine and edit information held within a spreadsheet on their iPad. In conjunction with VPN and cloud-based services, you even get to collaborate on project files using your mobile device.

That's a big change: Think about it: In part, the evolution of the PC was driven by the appearance of applications such as VisiCalc on personal computers. With spreadsheets being among the most widely used business applications, we've been freed from our reliance on desktop PCs. This also means we can file our figures -- stock control and the like -- wherever we assess them, and don't need proprietary systems to do so.

Apple’s Making Hay

Pending the release later this year of Windows 8, Apple is establishing a firm foothold among enterprise users (as I've discussed here). To understand the extent of its grip, here's some stats from Forrester’s survey of c.10,000 information workers in 17 countries:

  • One-fifth of information workers use one or more Apple devices for work, 11% use iPhones, 9% use iPads and 8% use Macs.
  • 41% of workers at director level or above use Apple devices for work.
  • 43% of workers earning over $150,000/year use Apple machines.
  • 46% of the enterprise companies surveyed issued Macs to employees.

Forrester takes these stats as evidence that "Windows dominance is at an end," adding: "In a fragmented market for mobile devices, customers and partners will look to anoint a solid number two alternative for a full range of personal technology -- and they'll choose Apple because of its strength with individuals across smartphones, tablets, and Macs."

It goes on: CFOs may also have to consider another thing that CIOs told Forrester, that they "feel protected by Apple's brand and app store strategy in a way they don't with Android products."

Microsoft’s Response

What's to become of Microsoft? The analysts expect its enterprise market share to shrink to below 50 percent, but predict Office sales will remain strong, because many of its component applications also work on non-Windows devices.

Microsoft has already hinted at plans to bring Office apps to iOS. Most businesses already have decades of archived Office format documents in their archives.