All across a MacWorld that even the New York Times described as strange, I saw an unusual trend on the expo floor. Dozens of companies were offering products that could only be used by businesses.
No fewer than 10 suppliers offered RAID or networked attached storage solutions. Backups into clouds and offsite storage even came from Iron Mountain, a company pretty well known for serving Unix and Windows customers. Iron Mountain arrived here in San Francisco for the show with its first Mac OS agent for its encrypted backup and data retrieval software.
And not a single supplier of mobile computing has the breadth of apps that Apple's solution offers. CRM pushed down to a phone with expert synchronization has emerged on a device with an Apple on its face. Yes, the iPhone. Postage and shipping options included a solution (at left) that prints labels ready for overseas shipments, so a mailroom staffer could skip the post office lines.
An alliance of a half-dozen companies pulled together in one 40-foot booth to sell administration and system management, backup, virtualization and more. One of the companies' VPs said he hoped that next year's conference would include some segregation, because he wanted a business section of the show floor to make contact with enterprise customers and medium-sized businesses.
In the HP marketplace, and in the 3000 community in particular, the Mac and its Unix-based OS may never escape the "not-Windows" ghetto where it lives, courtesy of outdated views. Apple is the company which makes billions off of music and phones. But on the other hand, HP makes billions selling ink and cameras and even flat-screen TVs. What makes a vendor a serious choice for serious business computing is the selection and standards available. Migration candidates in the 3000 market would do well to come here next January and see business exposed. Perhaps not directly alongside the booths selling iPhone cases, though.
Windows interfaces were easy to find on iMac screens out here. VMWare is getting serious competition from Parallels for virtualization solutions, and both companies have enterprise-grade products in their suites along with desktop offerings. Most of the larger vendors have been in the Windows business along with Mac sales for more than four years by now.
People say that the Mac architecture has been a closed environment, but it's more open than Windows, because the Mach kernel of Unix is underneath OS X. Managers say its much easier to find Windows-trained staff than Mac-savvy pros, but the range of Mac-trained IT workers is growing faster than Unix experts. Apple has been adding millions of business-ready systems to the market every year, along with all of those phones. Neither HP or IBM can say as much about their Unix businesses, which have been treading water in market share for some time.
In the beginning of the HP 3000's lifespan, choosing the Hewlett-Packard product as a business computer was a rogue move. As the saying went, nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. Apple is a similar kind of business choice today as the HP 3000 was in the late 1970s, a marketplace -- and an expo hall -- filling up with the third party suppliers serving companies like Rand and Nike. Forward thinking, early adopting enterprises, looking for a wedge into that "ubiquitous computing" HP dreamed of back in the 1990s. You could be one of those companies, thinking different, and your story could be "We're going to migrate to Unix."