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CIOs: Apple's not ready for business

A silicon.com jury of CIOs are staying away from Apple--saying its products are overpriced and have few applications.

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By Andy McCue
Silicon.com

Leading IT bosses claim that despite Apple's recent revival—largely around its consumer products—the company will continue to have little impact on corporate IT strategies.

After coming back from near oblivion, Apple's recent successes have been based around the iPod, new desktops and business hardware and a relatively virus-free platform.

We asked the silicon.com CIO Jury whether this had led them to rethink any aspect of their technology operations or if it challenged the traditionally-held notion that Apple has no place in corporate IT departments.

Rob Neil, head of ICT at Ashford Borough Council, said that as far as corporate systems are concerned Apple is "an irrelevance", while Richard Yeo, CTO at easyGroup, simply stated: "Proprietary hardware and software, overpriced, few applications."

Cost was an issue highlighted by other IT chiefs. Gavin Whatrup, IT director at advertising agency Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners, said that while Apple's strengths are in "great technology", graphics and design, the company needs to address supply, price and integration issues to break into the corporate mainstream.

Richard Steel, head of ICT, Newham Borough Council, was more succinct. "[Apple is] still an expensive fashion accessory in the consumer market and niche for business," he said.

Others agreed that Apple has no place in their own IT strategy but admitted that Apple's success in building up its user base has had a knock-on effect.

David Yu, CTO at online betting exchange Betfair, said: "We won't change our core platforms or strategy, but it does stress the need for web-based companies to improve support for the valued Mac population. We had already rebuilt our site to better support non-Windows platforms."

Phil Young, head of IT operations at Amtrak, said he is kept busy ensuring staff are not attaching iPods to business machines. A couple of IT bosses, including Ted Woodhouse, IT director at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the only reason there are few malware exploits for Apple software is down to a lack of market penetration.

"Virus writers aim to cause maximum disruption and attacking the Mac community will not do that any more than attacking the Linux desktop community will. If Mac or Linux, for whatever reason, become massively successful, and massively more market-dominant, then we all know where the malware authors will redirect their ethically misguided efforts."

Jeremy Acklam, IT director at Virgin Trains predicted that an iPod with e-mail capability might change the picture for businesses but the only person who said Apple will be an issue for corporate IT departments was JP Rangaswami, global CIO at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein.

Rangaswami described Mac OSX as "Linux with quality assurance and style" and said businesses will be forced to consider it because of Java's predominance, the maturing of open source, security and reliability issues, and the implications of telephony becoming software.

"Large institutions will find it harder to do this as current work practices are locked into the desktop, so maybe the release after Tiger. You have to look at it."

Today's CIO Jury was…

Jeremy Acklam, IT director, Virgin Trains
Steve Anderson, European IT partner, Davis Langdon
Ian Cohen, IT director, Financial Times
Rob Neil, head of ICT, Ashford Borough Council
JP Rangaswami, global CIO, Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein
Hugo Smith, IT director, Sporting Index
Richard Steel, head of ICT, Newham Borough Council
Gavin Whatrup, IT director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Ted Woodhouse, IT director, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
Richard Yeo, CTO easyGroup
Phil Young, head of IT operations, Amtrak
David Yu, CTO, Betfair

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