Apple’s Spring Loaded event may seem to have been consumer-focused, but it offered food for thought for any enterprise. Consider:
What’s a computer?
The iPad Pro is gaining the same M1 chip that powers the latest Macs and has made the PC industry green with envy. The 12.9-inch model is also getting an XDR display backed by more than 10,000 mini-LEDs. Given that you can connect an iPad Pro to an external display and work with a wireless keyboard and mouse, it’s hard to ignore its potential as a PC replacement.
Developers are going to push these devices to the edge.
There are some known unknowns at play: We don’t know how Apple will evolve the platform with iOS 15, which means we don’t yet know to what extent Apple will make it possible to run an iPad Pro like a Mac. Or, for that matter, if it will become possible to run macOS — or Windows (in emulation) — on these chips. I can, after all, run Windows for ARM (and macOS) on my M1 Mac.
Nevertheless, the road for iPad Pros to replace an even bigger chunk of the PC market seems clear. Given that these things are powerful enough to edit and review HDR video in the field, the direction of travel is hard to miss.
And did I mention that you get 5G in the cellular models? “Apple’s biggest announcement was the new iPad Pro with a new M1 chip and 5G capabilities, which should help carriers in their quest to sell new 5G subscriptions,” said Lynnette Luna, principal analyst at Global Data.
A powerful WFH computer
One of the hidden takeaways in Apple’s news is that the M1 Macs already represent most new Mac sales, accounting for over 50% of the computers Apple now sells. While the iMac is ostensibly consumer-focused, it’s unwise to let the multiple colors of Apple’s extensively redesigned 24-inch all-in-one desktop interfere with your judgment.
The M1 processor inside these Macs is extremely powerful. It lets you run almost any application faster than an Intel Mac, and M1-driven machines are front runners in all the performance tests. They are very capable computers.
The 24-inch iMac is 11.5mm thin. That’s just over the thickness of two Apple Pencils or the 24-inch LG display I’m sitting in front of right now. It’s built for videoconferencing with a 1,080p FaceTime HD camera and software designed to make you look better when you endure the next Zoom meeting.
The system has plenty of interconnects and starts at $1,299 — a couple hundred more than the starting price for the aforementioned 12.9-inch iPad Pro with M1 chip. Note, however, that it costs $1,499 for the model that provides the USB 3 ports, the Touch ID-enabled keyboard, and the Gigabit Ethernet port in the power adapter (too thick to fit inside the thin chassis) that everyone is judging this iMac on.
What’s the enterprise take? For me, it’s this: If you’re equipping remote workers with a device that will handle pretty much everything you throw at it, then the new 24-inch iMac is an excellent option.
When it comes to what these Macs can do, just think about what Adobe has told us about Photoshop, which sees an immediate, significant improvement when running on an M1 chip. And consider the fact that the M1 Mac mini is nearly as powerful as the professional-grade Intel iMac Pro that Apple no longer sells.
That the new iMac also has a decent videoconferencing camera and will make employees happy because it’s a capable machine that will look nice in their homes is a bonus to any business looking to boost employee loyalty and engagement in this difficult year.
Bottom line: While I can’t see the iMac as a huge enterprise player, it does promise happiness and productivity in one home worker friendly package. And if your business uses iOS apps within your workflow, your teams can also run iPhone and iPad apps on their Macs.
Apple’s business plan for podcasters
It’s important to think about Apple’s podcasting subscription offer. This gives podcasters tools they can use to publish, augment, and manage their content, but also offers a relatively stable business proposition. Not only will you know you’ll get paid (after all, the interlocutor is Apple), but you’ll know when and how, and you’ll possess good data to help guide your content decisions.
Lots of this isn’t unique, of course, but it creates an opportunity for podcast publishers, one they will likely exploit, given the high engagement levels of Apple users.
AirTags in the enterprise
At long last, Apple introduced AirTags, tiny $29 tracking devices that integrate with its clever Find My mesh system. We expected this, but the decision to open up the Find My network to third-party manufacturers should be seen as an opportunity for any business handling equipment or logistics.
Equally, if your enterprise has a fleet of expensive machinery; needs a tracking system for high-demand equipment, such as defibrillators in a medical facility; makes any kind of high-value device for sale, you may want to buy a few sets of AirTags (with a user-replaceable battery).
“Apple arguably has the largest mesh networks on the planet by virtue of its one billion active iPhone users,” said CCS Insights senior analyst Leo Gebbie. “This means the probability of finding a lost item that is attached to an AirTag is likely much higher than any other rival Bluetooth-based tracker.”
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