Apple arguably jumped inside the rapidly evolving Apple device management space when it introduced Apple Business Essentials this week. But how do people in the industry feel about the company’s debut?
Jamf CEO welcomes the opportunity
“When Apple innovates, Jamf celebrates,” Jamf CEO, Dean Hager said, on learning about Apple Business Essentials. “We believe this expected announcement is good news and presents Jamf with a terrific opportunity.”
Analyst Horace Dediu notes that the addressable market is effectively about 212 million businesses worldwide, with around 31 million in the US alone. Most of these smaller entities run their IT in a fashion that’s more like consumer markets than enterprise, notes Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.
Milanesi thinks Apple’s entrance into the market may be a problem for Apple MDM vendors such as Jamf, but sees opportunities for them to enhance Apple’s basic offer in other ways. That’s also what Hager thinks.
Jamf, which announced an impressive set of Q3 results Nov. 11, has always existed alongside Apple. Hager noted several times during the last decade when industry watchers thought Apple moves might damage his business: Once when Apple introduced MDM in 2010, again in 2011 with Profile Manager, later with Apple Configurator, and more recently with Apple Business Manager.
Bridge the gap
Hager argues that in each of those cases Jamf’s business grew as it worked to bridge the gap between what Apple offers and the sometimes more specialized needs of enterprise customers.
Speaking during the fiscal call, Hager shared some information concerning larger clients, some of whom moved to Macs on the strength of Apple’s M1 chips. These examples also included large-scale deployments, such as 100,000 devices in use in the airline industry and the iPads used during the recent SpaceX space flight.
It is arguable that these deployments represent more specialized requirements that become typical in businesses once they grow beyond a certain level and need more complex solutions than Apple, at least presently, provides.
Hager also thinks his company’s growing portfolio of security and education-focused products gives it extra ammunition to help businesses using Apple products. Jamf has also built market-tested solutions for zero-touch deployment, support for Microsoft Azure, and more.
It wasn’t a surprise
Apple’s move wasn’t a huge surprise. The company had been expected to introduce something of this nature since it acquired smaller MDM provider Fleetsmith in 2020.
Apple had to improve its business management offer, argued Hager. Business users needed an entry-level tool, and Apple needed a more equal footing with other solutions aimed at businesses of that size.
The company’s existing Apple Business Manager can be seen as a little too complex for small businesses, he said. Apple Business Essentials will make it easier, which should help further accelerate SMB adoption of Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.
Apple’s move also gives it a more equal footing in contrast to Surface and Chromebook when it comes to remote wipe of business data. Hager cited (but did not share) first-hand Jamf data that shows some small businesses resist moving to Apple systems because of challenges of that kind.
“These problems needed to be solved,” he said. “This is going to raise Apple’s profile in business. The weakest spot for Apple in business has always been for the small businesses who just want to get started.”
Addigy also sees opportunity
Addigy CEO Jason Dettbarn also seems positive about Apple’s move. “This announcement demonstrates Apple’s commitment to Apple at work and heavy investment in the robustness of MDM protocol for Apple MDM vendors like Addigy,” he said. Business Esssentials “provides a great jumping off point for customers to adopt Apple” and then move to more sophisticated systems as they need them.
Apple is arguably striking the market at a pivotal moment.
Leading from below
The move to hybrid working has put employee choice even higher up an agenda in which most new employees now prefer Macs. This has driven big investment in Macs for business. IDC claims that in Q3 Apple shipped more Macs than in any quarter in history with a growth rate double that of the industry. This is a sustained pattern, making Mac the fastest-growing computer over seven quarters, a growth rate approximately twice the industry.
Moving forward, nothing has changed, said Hager.
“We are going to fill the gap between what Apple builds and the enterprise requires,” he said. “We see Apple Business Essentials customers as a new market of new small business coming up, and we will ensure our additional products sell well into that base and add extra value. We’ll give them a path forward into more robust and scalable solutions.”
In the event Apple’s moves help generate continued growth for its platforms in enterprise markets, then business users now enjoy a feast of integration providers capable of supporting that migration, with Apple supporting the smallest operations, and bigger partners such as Jamf, Addigy or SAP, helping to support platforms that had almost zero enterprise market share 10 years ago.
Things have changed since 2010.
“I don’t believe you can be a credible provider of enterprise software if you’re not part of the Apple ecosystem today,” says Jeetu Patel, general manager and executive vice president, Cisco security and collaboration.