A question that often surfaces in the minds of those thinking of starting out in business is what is the right technology platform for me? Desktop or laptop, PC or Mac, iOS, Android, Windows or Blackberry, etc.? This post looks at whether a case can be made for purchasing a Mac for business use.
There’s no doubt that a Mac is a very capable computer when used in business setting. However, the decision to purchase a buy a Mac requires careful thought. Migrating a business of any size to a new technology platform is a non-trivial task and it is not without some risk.
Therefore it makes sense to only consider a technology where there is a strong business case that clearly articulates the reasoning behind the decision along with the expected benefits and the possible risks.
Some things that you may wish to consider are outlined below.
A Mac is more expensive to buy than a PC
The Mac Mini is the cheapest Mac, but starting at around £400 it does cost a bit more than the cheapest PC. It also has a comparatively weak specification 4GB RAM, no screen, no keyboard, no mouse and it cannot be upgraded. However, since November 2013 every new Mac ships with Apple’s iWork productivity software. This could result in a significant saving in software licensing costs if your organisation is able to do without Microsoft Office.
Of course there are a number of free alternatives to Microsoft Office such as Libre Office or Open Office that will run perfectly well on a PC.
It’s also worth noting that a Mac will use the OSX operating system. It is available in either a client or a server version. This greatly simplifies software licensing and all of its associated costs when compared to Microsoft’s Windows platform.
Macs are more expensive to repair than PCs
In the past it was possible to reduce the cost of repairing a Mac by sourcing third-party components and engineers. However, the space saving designs of recent Macs and other Apple antics have made most third-party upgrades or repairs much harder (if not impossible) to perform. Leaving the Apple Genius bar as the only game in town
Operating system downgrades are not always possible
When buying a new business PC Microsoft makes it possible to specify that it is shipped with a downgraded operating system. For example, a PC that would normally ship with Windows 8 can be specified with Windows 7. In addition, older versions of Windows can usually be purchased through third-party retailers. The ability to upgrade its hardware and its software independently can be a critical feature for some organisations. Especially those that are running legacy applications that are not compatible with or supported on the latest operating systems.
This level of flexibility is not supported by Apple. A new Mac can only be purchased with the most recent version of the OSX operating system and it cannot be downgraded. For example, it is not possible to buy a new Mac that ships with Lion or Snow Leopard. This can have serious implications for business continuity.
There is a greater selection of software for PCs.
Windows based PCs benefit from the widest range of applications software and the largest number of vendors. Economies of scale and a competitive marketplace help to keep the cost of PC software low. The market for Mac software isn’t as big and this can result in higher prices for Mac variants of some applications.
In addition, the Mac version may not have feature parity with its PC counterpart. For example, some versions of Microsoft Office for Mac support Visual Basic macros whilst others do not.
Whilst Macs can certainly be an effective tool in a business context a PC is likely to be more flexible, cheaper to acquire, repair and replace. Perhaps this is why despite the apparent popularity of Macs, PCs continue to dominate the business computing environment.