Macs bad for small business? Debunked!

CNN/Money/Fortune did a hatchet job on why Macs are bad for small business. The author, Jonathan Blum, is new to the Mac platform and it shows. I've copied every single negative comment he had about the Mac platform in the article and given a short explanation on why I believe he is wrong.

Here we go...

...And though plenty of software is still not supported on the Mac (more on that in a moment), it's now possible to get just about any Windows program up and running on an Apple computer.

This statement is more than a little bit contradictory. So what program can't you run on a Mac? Not many. It runs almost all modern software and everything Linux or Windows through virtualization.

...First off, the packaging is seriously overdone: The slogan "Designed by Apple in California" posivitively shouts at you from the box. Like I care.

Apple wins packaging award after award. Look it up.

But why should locating the "on" switch be such a struggle? Just stick the thing where I, and my employees, can find it: right up front.

You don't have to power off and on a Mac all of the time so Apple made it unobtrusive. Is this really a big deal? What is the learning curve of your employees? Unless you employ goldfish, they should figure it out after the 3rd or 4th time.

But - as ever, with Apple boxes - there were not enough USB ports. I was forced to dump my USB hard drive in favor of an Ethernet enablement unit.

Hey Guy. Look at the keyboard. Two more USB ports. Five in total ... how many more do you want? I bet Mr. Blum had his mouse attached to the back of the iMac. Ethernet enablement unit?

Then came the software issues. We found that Citrix's (CTXS) GoToMyPC, my shop's VPN (virtual private network) tool, was unstable on our iMac. Our Web-based backup service, Mozy, did not support Mac solutions when I started testing, but has since released an upgrade. In general, I found the same number of driver issues as I did with my Vista upgrade from Windows XP last year - with both systems, you'll need to do some tweaking to get everything on track.

Citrix works great on a Mac and is 100% supported. So is GoToMyPC. Frankly GoToMyPC is a very consumer focused product. He should be using something like VNC supported Remote Desktop. Most major VPNs work with Mac.

Mozy works great on Mac as well. I had the beta running a year ago. If you don't like Mozy, try Egnyte. Or Backjack.

Driver issues? With what?! Apple out of the box supports almost every printer, camera, etc. and because Apple controls the hardware it is released on, there are never driver issues with the CPU itself. In comparison to Vista which won't run on most PCs without driver issues, the issue is laughable. No tweaking is necessary.

But again, there are issues: Offsetting all this speed are some curious features clearly not aimed at the average small business. The desktop is divided into quadrants that extend beyond the screen's edge. Only with some complex keyboard commands can I slide from one to another.

Mr. Blum got his hands on Spaces. Yes you can have four or more desktops if you want them. My oh my, people have been doing this for years! Embarassing.

All the goofy Apple-centric commands leave PC-trained users constantly fighting to parse out what the control, option and command keys do. And there is the very odd mouse. Apple devotees swear by the touch-sensitive shell of the "Mighty Mouse," but its top left- and right-click buttons still look an awful lot like just one.

Goofy? Try using command where you would normally use control. Takes around two minutes to get used to. The Mighty Mouse and the left and right button won't take that long.

The real eye-rolling winner is Time Machine, quite possibly the silliest operating system extension in history. Must I really sit through a full round of special effects - the desktop slides away to reveal some mysterious star in full supernova disappearing into infinity behind my various backups - just to find a what I said to a client in a lost e-mail? Honestly.

The special effect takes all of two seconds and if it gets people to back up their machines, it is worth it. Oh, and a built-in backup program on the OS is "possibly the silliest operating system extension in history"? I beg to differ.

...expect real trouble with some applications, such as syncing your Apple to not-Apple portable devices like BlackBerrys and smartphones. I and my assistants had terrible problems getting all of our company programs to work properly.

Finally he has a point! Blackberry syncing isn't quite as good as it is on a PC (unless you do VMWare or Parallels). However, it is certainly good enough - especially with things like Mark/Space's The Missing Sync.

If his assistants are at around the same skill level, they are probably still trying to turn the machine on.

If your company isn't running Web standards compliant software, it is time to change. As stated earlier, you can run just about anything on a Mac.

Yes, more businesses can now go to Macs - I would say they now make sense for maybe 20 companies out of 100, up from just 5 a few years back. But for the rest of us - particularly those that need basic computing and basic features - Apple is still more expensive and simply not worth the integration headaches for the average small shop.

"Basic computing and basic features" type shops are exactly the markets that should jump all over Apple. Integration is easy if you know what you are doing.

This author obviously did not.


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