A report came out recently from Enterprise Desktop Alliance that stated that 74% of the businesses they surveyed (314) stated that they planned on increasing the number of Macs that were used inside of their organizations. Interestingly enough, the three primary reasons given for this growth was employee preference (27.2%), productivity (24.7%), and lower total cost of ownership (14.1%). The actual validity of this survey has some questioning behind it as Enterprise Desktop Alliance is a Mac tech support company specializing in the integration of Mac and Windows networks. However, regardless of whether the report and survey is slightly biased towards Mac integration, the reality is that as Apple continues to develop and improve its hardware and software to ‘play nice’ inside of enterprise networks, their share will continue to grow. I do agree that the top three reasons for this growth will most likely be employee preference, overall productivity, and a total lower cost of ownership (computer is more expensive, but less expensive to maintain and upgrade over time). While this data like this is very encouraging to ‘Mac Addicts’, such as myself, I also feel a little worried about what the increased marketshare will bring… primarily, viruses.
Many Mac and Windows users are actually unaware that Apple computers and devices only make up about 9.6% of the entire computer market (Net Applications February 2009 report). With all the advertising and marketing that Apple does, one would almost assume that this number is much larger (ranked 16th most recognizable brand in 2008 by Millward Brown). In reality, though, Windows and Microsoft applications have been the business standard for a long time before Apple began its rapid growth in the last few years (largely caused by the release and popularity of the iPod in October 2001). Having Windows computers making up about 88% of all computers in use has made them the primary target for viruses. I think the biggest reason for this is simply because if one was to design a virus, it should attack the largest amount of computers available. This is easily shown with estimates of there being over 1 million Windows viruses and variants by the end of 2009. Similarly, Spyware and other Malware primarily effect Windows computers and largely leave Macs alone. While I do believe that Macs have a superior user experience and capabilities, I don’t think that they are bulletproof against viral attacks. In the last few months, most notably with the OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B trojans, it has been shown that Macs can get viruses. As Macs grow in use and take over more of the computer market share, I think that the numbers of these viruses will only grow. So while it is really cool that they are getting more popular, I am afraid that it will only draw more attention for viral, malware, and spyware attacks. The biggest problem with this…? Apple’s advertising….or lack thereof.
I love Apple and their advertising… but I do believe that they are doing a serious disservice to their customers by giving a false sense of security. Obviously, seeing as one of their biggest ‘selling points’ over the past few years has been that there are no Mac viruses or that Macs don’t get viruses, they are not going to just switch gears and tell people that all Macs are vulnerable and they need anti-virus software as soon as possible (although they have ‘recommended it’ in Apple Tech doc: HT2550). That said, though, I think that they need to be extremely clear with customers and mention that while there are currently only a handful of Mac viruses, spyware, and malware… that the number can and will grow as they become more popular. In reality the best way to be safe on a Mac is to use the computer, software, and internet as if it was a Windows computer. Please feel free to comment or put in your two cents!