Posted by Florian Wardell | 0 comments
10 reasons why businesses should switch to Mac
A few days ago, my dad asked me if I could help him switch to Mac, to my very big surprise. He owns a small webmastering company in Austria, and has been a lifelong PC user, so before brainstorming about possible tips I could give him as he undertakes the big leap, I started wondering if the idea was actually good.
There’s no doubt I love Macs, I even wrote an article about my own switch from the PC world in a previous TechHaze article, but given the relatively high pricetag of an Apple computer and the “fear of change” that such a project can be associated with, I asked myself if it was all worth it. Some would say “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, but let me stop you right here: the PC he uses is in fact agonizing at this very moment, so it’s now or never.
So should small and medium businesses switch to Mac? My answer is yes, and here is why:
1. It’s a safe choice
When you buy a Mac, you don’t just buy an Apple machine: you also buy a PC. Macs are shipped with a software called “bootcamp”, which will allow any user to install Windows on an other partition. Hell, you don’t even need to know what a partition is, the software is intuitive, easy to use, and in a matter of minutes you’ll have a fully operational windows installation on your machine. This is the guarantee that if something goes wrong during the switch, you’ll always be able to reboot your Mac, hold the option key and come back to the familiar windows world. Small businesses can’t afford to to loose time because they recently switched and don’t know how to perform a specific task on their new OS. Don’t worry, that’s not an issue thanks to Apple’s bootcamp. You can also try the numerous OS emulators.
Try not to get used to it though, because on the long term, you’d be missing out on OSX’s fantastic features, which are at the core of a Mac’s strength.
2. It’s not expensive
I will discuss software-specific details, but let me first underline the very first thing you’ll notice about your new Mac: how beautifully built it is. Sure, it may not have the quad core processor and a gazillion gigaflops per nanosecond graphic card, but it is built by the highest quality standards, and has one of the sturdiest designs of the market. The iMac is a beautiful machine, but good design and engineering really matters with mobile devices. There is nothing about Apple’s laptop that is not useful. By this I mean that every part is carefully designed, and that there are not unnecessary moving parts. The more moving parts you have on a machine, the liklier it is one for one of them to fail, and that is expensive. Time is money, remember?
On a mac, you’ll spend less time repairing, protecting, figuring out, calling the IT guy, and you’ll spend more time being productive.
On the long run, good quality is less expensive than bad quality, and a Mac is the perfect example for this. Businesses of all sizes can save money over time, despite the higher price tag associated with the initial purchase. The Mac’s greatest ally in calculating cost of ownership is the value of time. Business owners say their Macs experience fewer crashes and other problems than PCs running Windows, translating into less lost work and time. They also tend to keep Macs in service longer than they keep PCs running.
The time calculation works both ways though: You’ll have to place a value on retraining employees on the new operating system and lost time and increased agitation due to slightly different keyboard layouts and a different OS. You’ll also need a budget for Mac versions of the software you plan to run. (Of course, you would probably also have some retraining and software costs upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 if you stuck with Windows.) If you’re starting a new business, you can skip the costs associated with switching. Also, if you already own screens and keyboards, Apple’s Mac Mini seems a perfect solution: Inexpensive, green, quite powerful and discrete.
For some, working on a computer that doesn’t have a virus scanner may seem unnatural, but don’t you think that this is how things should be? Well that’s how things are on a mac. Because Apple’s market share is relatively small, creating malware and viruses for Macs just doesn’t pay off, hence the quasi-nonexistence of Mac viruses. One could easily foresee that this won’t last for ever, with Apple’s popularity rising and Macs gaining market share, but some simple (and very effective) security features are already implemented in Apple’s newest OS, Snow Leopard. For instance, you will be warned the first time you open a program, in case some phishing attack may have fooled you into downloading an app.
This means no additional costs for a virus scanner licenses, no nightlong scans of your hardrives, no figuring out why the mouse moves on its own, no troubleshooting and countless reformatting runs, and more time to work.
4. The OS
You may have noticed that the average specs of a Mac are unimpressive, and you are right. But what one shouldn’t forget is that thanks to tight OS/hardware integration (and lack of bloatware), Apple has fine tuned their OS for their relatively small product lineup, which basically means that you won’t need as much speed as on a PC.
Macs are stable, but they do sometimes crash. This is why you should backup your files, and OSX has a truly amazing tool for this called Time Machine. Just plug in a hard drive, and let the computer take care of everything for you. You can also do this over a wifi network, if you’re the proud owner of a Time Capsule.
The OS learning curve is quite shallow, you’ll get used to the Mac in no time. To be precise, you’ll be so used to it that you’ll find it unbearable to work on a computer that doesn’t have spotlight (and instant file finder/app launcher), expose (see all your open windows in one snapshot) or spaces (organize your windows on different desktops).
You may be annoyed by Apple’s window philosophy: No window should take more space than it needs, hence the lack of “maximize” button. In this case, you’ll find plenty of software, free or paid, that will allow you to replicate windows functionality, if you really can’t live without it. This leads us to a crucial point:
5. The software
The times where you could say that there are no decent software alternatives for Mac are over. The biggest concern for a small business, most of the time, is the productivity suite, usually known as Microsoft Office. Microsoft has a fully functional version for Mac, you’ll be able to run Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Snow leopard is Exchange enabled and Office ships with Entourage, that should take care of your emailing.
But now that you switched, why not have a look at OSX’s standard apps? GarageBand is a powerful audio editor, Quicktime X supports screencasts, iWeb will allow you to easily create beautiful websites, iMovie is a great video cutter and iDVD is wonderful mastering tool. Yes, all this is included in your OS, for free.
If you want to leave Microsoft’s world for good, consider buying the $79 iWork suite. One of its apps, Keynote, is worth all the money alone. If you own a business, there’s a good chance you’ll have a to prepare slides at one point or another, and Keynote excels at that. You may be familiar with Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”. Yes, the sideshow was produced on Keynote.
All the Adobe apps are available on Mac, and are not more expensive, which is what most people tend to think. A growing community of Mac developers have created a wonderful range of apps, most of them quite inexpensive (15-35$), but of great quality, focusing in typical Apple fashion on user interface ergonomy and design, but not without sacrificing functionality and usefulness.
6. Support is key
In case something should go wrong, be advised: Apple’s support is the best on the planet. If you are fortunate enough to live in a city with an Apple store, you’ll be able to take your computer to the Genius Bar, and get it fixed on the spot. Because the OS and hardware are produced by the same company, they won’t give you another number to call or simply tell you that it’s Microsoft’s fault. You can even seek support for a Windows partition installed via bootcamp!
Should you live a in a city where there’s no service center, just give them a call (I waited 23 seconds on the line) and they’ll give you instructions on how to troubleshoot the Mac. Worse case scenario, you have to get it repaired and can’t go to a service facility: don’t worry, Apple will come and pick up your mac, for free. This is precisely what happened to me, and they switched the motherboard + lid within 4 days. Also, Apple doesn’t care in which country you bought your computer, they’ll repair it wherever you are.
7. It’s pretty
Don’t laugh. Image is key in business, and Apple represents cutting edge technology associated with a good dose of cool factor. Thanks to their unique and gorgeous design, Apple computers will be instantly recognized when your customer walks into your office. If the customer is an Apple user, a bond will easily created. If the customer is windows user, he’ll at least be curious and see that you, forgive the quote, “think different”.
8. The server licensing fees
If you’ve ever bought a server for a Windows network, you know how they get you. Hint: It’s the licensing fees. Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, for example, has a retail price of $1,089. For that price, five clients can connect to the server. Each additional client costs $77. If you opt instead for a full-fledged copy of Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2007, the pricing structure is even more complex.
Mac OS X server costs $999 and includes an unlimited client license, making the accounting simple. It uses the familiar Mac interface, so you don’t need to go out and get a certification before you set up your network. It’s got the communication and management capabilities you’d expect for a small business, and some you might not have thought about, such as a Wiki Server to make your intranet more collaborative and flexible. And, as your business grows, you don’t have to shell out for more client licenses.
9. Because you have an iPhone
Ok, maybe not you, but the iPhone is one of the most popular business smartphones out there. People are just ecstatic about its connectivity, user interface and various (business related) apps. Apple developed the current iPhone OS in 3 years, OSX has been in development for more than a decade. I can guarantee that if you love the iPhone, you’ll adore your Mac. Do your iPhone a favor and buy a Mac.
10. Because it is the best
I know this is a typical Apple fanboy conclusion, but it is true. Now that Windows 7 is here, the cut isn’t that clear anymore, but it is undeniable that Apple offers the most polished up, thoroughly developed and advanced computing experience out there. Why would you have anything but the best for your business? Sure, Macs costs more than low-end PCs initially, but isn’t it worth it in the end to pay a little bit more up front for a computer that works with you, rather than against you? Mac users love their computers, so, if you can, it makes nothing but sense to bring that to your business. There is a Mac for everyone: The MacBook Air’s feather weight and the MacBook Pro’s record breaking battery life will appeal to the mobile user, the business man on the move, while the all-in-one iMac and budget friendly Mac Mini will be likely to satisfy big screen lovers and business that are just starting up. And then there’s the fabulous Mac Pro, the holy grail of Macs for power users. The strides Apple has made in offering business solutions over the past decade are making the Mac a more sensible choice, and I haven’t heard of an unsatisfied Mac user… ever.
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Images courtesy: Apple