Research firm: Apple OS making inroads with business

Mac OS X is taking share mainly from Unix, report says

Apple's Unix-based Mac OS X operating system is making inroads in the business community, according to a report by market research firm Jupiter Media. The report tracks desktop and server operating systems in medium to large-sized business.

The report found that in businesses with 250 employees or more, 17% of the employees were running Mac OS X on their desktop computer at work. In businesses that had 10,000 or more employees, 21% of employees used Mac OS X on their desktop work computer.

Mac OS X Server is also doing well with businesses. Nine percent of companies with 250 employees or more used Mac OS X Server, while 14% of companies with 10,000 employees or more used Apple's server software.

Due to reporting techniques, comparisons to where Mac OS X was last year at this time were not available. However, Jupiter Media Senior Analyst and author of the report, Joe Wilcox, characterised the numbers as significant for Apple.

"What we are seeing is Mac OS X taking share aware from traditional Unix installations," Wilcox says. "In some cases, OS X is taking share away from Windows, as well."

Wilcox says large businesses with expensive Unix systems are opting for Mac OS X when they upgrade for a variety of reasons. OS X is winning out over Linux in some cases as well, says Wilcox, because these businesses would already have Unix expertise on staff; OS X has a good stable of server applications and it can run traditional Unix apps; and OS X is more viable as a desktop platform.

Jupiter also sees opportunities for Apple with companies that currently run a Unix and Windows combination. With Mac OS X's Unix underpinnings, companies can use Apple's operating system to replace the other two.

Microsoft's Windows operating system saw a marginal decrease in installed base this year, according to the report.

Wilcox says it is too early to gauge reaction to Apple's recent announcement that it intends to switch to Intel-based systems next year. While cost will be definitely be a factor, he says, that is not always the largest cost centre.

"With a lot of these systems the biggest cost is software, not hardware," he says.

Linux users also represent a big pool of potential switchers, according to the report.

"I'm surprised to see just how much Mac OS X has captured the interest of potential Linux switchers," says Wilcox. "Companies that were considering Linux are now buying Mac OS X instead."

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