Apple is the top IT vendor, says Gartner

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction

Get ready to abandon your preconceptions, Microsoft’s IT hegemony is broken. Gartner now claims Apple, Samsung, and Google have become the top three IT vendors by revenue.

The laws of motion

Sir Isaac Newton (star of the first ever Apple logo) in his Third Law of Motion said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

You find this philosophical construct applied in numerous ways – from the ebb and flow of politics and social discourse to the inevitability with which Apple has returned from the dead to become the world’s leading tech company: reviled, criticized and imitated, the company now leads the IT pack.

This may be the case in consumer markets, but surely this isn’t so when it comes to enterprise IT? Except it is so, as new generations of employee and new implementations of IT bring Apple-friendly business solutions into everyday working life.

Tick-tock

Apple’s success in consumer markets translated into a growing position within enterprise IT, forcing Microsoft to adopt a more Apple-like business plan as it moved to become a hardware vendor in its own right, rather than a software licensor in partnerships with others. It’s like clockwork, and the evidence is easy to find:

  • IBM now claims it costs three times as much for tech support to manage Windows PCs as it does to manage Macs.
  • IBM has over 10,000 people developing iOS apps for enterprise users.
  • According to Good Technology's Mobility Index Report, iPhone accounted for 72% of all enterprise smartphone activations during the first quarter while iPad accounted for 81% of tablet activations.
  • The JAMF annual survey reveals similar sets of statistics, with 91% of organizations now using Mac and 99% on iPad and iPhone.

Gartner says…

The Gartner list is interesting in many ways.

Not only does it quantify the sea change that’s taken place in IT, but it is the first time the analyst firm has published a list like it.

The analyst says it hopes tech business leaders will use this list as a way to “benchmark competitive performance” as the driver of IT purchasing. The idea is that the measures of what makes sense in enterprise IT are changing dramatically as digital transformation’s grip extends across everything. Gartner calls this a shift from “The Nexus of Forces to digital business as the driver of IT purchasing.”

“The needs of IT buyers are shifting. CEOs are focused on growth and are more focused on realising business outcomes from their IT spend,” said John-David Lovelock, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

These things aren't just tools -- they have become money-making investments in their own right.

Apple’s weaving new reality

At this point, Apple appears to have some advantages in the new enterprise IT.

“Gartner has unveiled its top 100 vendors in IT, with iPhone giant Apple taking the top spot with more than $218 billion in IT revenue. Apple’s revenue was a huge $79 billion more than its closest rival Samsung, which came in at the number two spot with $139 billion.”

That’s just revenue, of course – the big test will be if Apple can successfully pivot its position to fully exploit its changing status in the industry.

Reaching for the pivot

At its recent WWDC developer event it introduced some improvements for business users, but I think its newly-announced augmented and virtual reality development tools present the best near-term opportunity for the company.

You see, it’s not just about supporting existing business systems – it is already getting better at that: but for true success in the sector Apple needs to provide fresh platforms for new business growth.

That’s exactly what ARKit, with its already deployed hundreds of millions of playback devices (compatible iPhones), will provide. This is so tempting even Cisco’s in on the act.

Defy gravity

“We should expect to see a larger AR ecosystem develop around software and products to provide enhanced capabilities to the Apple AR features. This is the first step in creating an immersive AR experience for consumers," said David Goldman, Vice President of Marketing at Lumus.

We can already see Apple's end-to-end creation-&-consumption AR platform piquing interest among sections of the business community.

One great illustration of the potential of this – IKEA says it will be a launch partner for Apple AR solutions, providing a catalog of products you’ll be able to try around your home.

That’s just one of dozens of potential solutions that enterprise developers may want to explore. When you look at this potential, Newton’s Laws of Motion seemingly favor Apple’s growing enterprise pitch. Quite appropriate, given the importance of the famed mathematician in Apple's earliest days.

Can Apple maintain its growing enterprise position? What do you think are the three biggest challenges it faces? How can it beat them? Let me know.

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