Apple’s products have soared in popularity in recent years, with the iPhone and iPad capturing people’s imaginations. As a result, increasing numbers of people are considering using Apple's products in the workplace. Is it time to consider a Mac for your business?
Traditionally, Macs and PCs have occupied different areas of the business IT market. ““Macs were for more creative industries, but over the last few years there’s been a convergence,” says Andy Nunn, director of The PC-Mac Support Company.
As a result, it’s become easy to run PCs and Macs on the same computer network and to share files. “I’ve never had any compatibility issues,” confirms Jen Holmes, who runs J for Jen. “Everything you need is available on both.”
The range of business software for Macs has increased enormously, too. “For years, Windows had a bigger choice of software,” explains John Baxter, systems administrator at Data HQ, which moved its sales team to Macs from PCs. “Now you can get equivalent Mac software for virtually everything.”
Popular applications - like Microsoft Office – are also available for Macs, making it easier to switch to a Mac for business if you want to. And then there’s the ‘iPad effect’: as companies start to make use of iPads and iPhones, it’s only natural for them to want to consider Apple Mac computers too.
There are still some packages — usually specialist software — which are only available on PCs. However, even that doesn’t need to cause problems as you can use a tool like Boot Camp to run Microsoft Windows on your Mac.
With few software differences, cost is often the decisive factor. A powerful Apple laptop — such as a MacBook Pro — costs around £1,000-£1,600. Yet a PC of similar specification from Dell can be had for £700-£900. And while entry-level PCs cost £200-£300, it’s impossible to buy any sort of Mac for that price.
Of course, you’re not just paying for the specification. Macs rank consistently well for build quality and reliability. “Even after a few years, Macs are still very good machines,” confirms John. “You’re likely to have to upgrade PCs more often.”
But although Macs may last a bit longer than PCs, you probably won’t make significant savings in other areas. “Support costs are about the same,” says Andy. “If anything, you might end up paying a little more for support from a Mac specialist.”
Nick Daines from Lumen PR opted for PCs over Macs when buying computers for his firm: “We were looking at a pair of MacBook Airs. But compared to PCs, they’re relatively expensive. They’re well designed, so they’re arguably still good value for money, but we wanted to spend a bit less on our laptops.”
Despite the cost factor pushing him towards PCs, Nick acknowledges Macs have a key strength: “The user experience is better.” Indeed, Apple has become known for making its products simple and enjoyable to use.
John Baxter agrees: “It’s my experience that people enjoy using Macs more. This makes them less likely to grumble — they’re more positive and more productive.”
Although it’s hard to quantify any productivity gains from the switch, he found people at his company required minimal training to start using Macs. “We spent about half an hour showing them the basics, then left them to it. It was a breath of fresh air for a lot of them to realise things just worked.”
Viruses and malware are much more common on Microsoft Windows-based PCs. Hackers target them because there are far more PCs out there. “There are fewer viruses for Macs, but as Macs become more popular the risks will grow,” explains John.
What’s more, Macs can pass infections on to other PCs. “Do you want to be a carrier and infect your clients?” asks Andy. “That’s why all our Macs have security software — we use the avast! package.”
He also notes that it can be trickier to manage a network of Macs, because Apple’s network software lacks some features common on PCs. “Central management and security controls are easier to implement with PCs,” he argues. “With Macs, it’s harder to structure your network to ensure you’re getting backups and that data is stored centrally.”
The decision whether to buy a Mac or PC often hinges on image. “I work in advertising and marketing industries,” explains Jen. “People want someone who knows the latest technology. It’s shallow and ridiculous, but having a sleek Mac is more impressive than having a big PC.”
But it cuts both ways. Nick Daines thinks his clients prefer him to have a PC, “Our clients are technology firms — I think PCs mark us as more serious people who get the job done,” he says.
The key, as John Baxter explains, is to focus on your specific situation: “The driving factor for us was a business reason. Our sales team was getting bogged down, and that was eroding our profits.
“It wasn’t about us wanting to switch to Macs. It was about finding the solution that would make everyone’s life easier — and that just happened to be from Apple.”
Pros and cons
PCs tend to be:
Macs tend to be:
There’s little difference when it comes to:
So, attractive as using a Mac for business might seem, it’s worth thinking about these key issues before making the switch:
Perhaps the truth is that whether you choose a PC or Mac is becoming less and less important. As we all begin to use more cloud-based applications over the internet, the operating system you choose is less critical.
So, using both Macs and PCs in the same office won’t create the same problems as it has done in the past. There are dozens of ways to make them manageable.