August 11, 2007

Once you go Mac, you may never go back

Once you go Mac, you may never go back

Working at one of the very few Macintosh shops in town, my colleagues and I get many questions about “switching.”

People have seen the ads on TV–”I’m a mac; I’m a P.C.”–and the iPhone spots. Some “switchers” are familiar with Apple products; they have iPods and have used iTunes. Others are shopping for new computers and want to see what the Mac has to offer. One thing potential switches have in common: misconceptions about how a Mac can help them.

One misconception is that a Macintosh computer isn’t a “business machine.” But many companies in Columbia have discovered otherwise.

Woodruff Sweitzer, an advertising agency, is an all Mac company, utilizing more than 30 Mac desktops and servers, with only a couple Microsoft Windows based servers. While advertising is a creative field in which Mac platforms are commonly used in design and production, at Woodruff Sweitzer, all departments of the office are using Macs: design, traffic, accounting, even the people in the corner offices. For them, Macs manage all aspects of the business. They have no trouble with compatibility, using Microsoft Office for Mac. They even used Microsoft Exchange–running on a Windows server–for e-mail and calendar management in Entourage (a Mac program similar to Microsoft Outlook).

Bill Costello, director of business development at Woodruff Sweitzer, shared his story of migrating back and forth between Windows and Mac. In his opinion, the intuitive nature of the Mac “blows Windows away,” and after using a Mac, going back to Windows was cumbersome and difficult. Being back on a Mac, he says, he is able to work more efficiently.

One of Costello’s favorite features of the Mac is Apple’s Keynote software. Keynote is Apple’s answer to PowerPoint. While it is able to import and export PowerPoint files, native Keynote presentations look exponentially more sophisticated than their PowerPoint counterparts. “PowerPoint is stale,” says Costello; with Keynote, he can create presentations that look superior, with better integration of media content, he says.

Scott Christianson of Kaleidoscope Videoconferencing also runs an all-Mac shop. The security is easier to manage on a Mac, he says, because “FreeBSD UNIX is a very stable and secure system.” He has no worries about viruses, and he deals with fewer updates than he did when he was running a Windows machine. Because of its built-in security, Christianson has not had to invest in the high-priced firewalls that are needed to protect Windows machines.

Christianson does have a Windows machine in the office, though: his Mac. Using a program called Parallels, he installed Windows XP on his Mac, allowing him to run the Windows application side-by-side with his Mac operating system. This enables him to use Windows-Only software without having to invest in a second computer. Moreover, though Christianson has no current need for it, because of Mac OS’s UNIX base, his Mac can run any UNIX application without any extra investment.

The total cost of ownership for a Mac is lower than that of a Windows machine. Many shoppers see that low-end Windows-based computers are available for $300 and think that Macs are too expensive. However, Michael Gartenberg, and analyst at JupiterMedia, found that on “reliability, build quality, manageability and overall value … Macs deliver.”

While they start at a higher price point, Macs deliver a much higher return on investment. Office implementation means more productive (and happier) workers, fewer calls to tech support, lower cost of maintenance, lower cost of network and infrastructure and continued use of OS investment from former machines.

More and more businesses are making the switch, realizing a Mac is more than a place to hook up an iPod.

Posted in Apple, Business, ComputersTaggs:
Write a comment