International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has some advice for companies looking to cut IT costs: switch from Windows PCs to Mac computers from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The Macs may cost more up front, but there are big savings to be had in support costs.
In 2014, IBM and AAPL entered into a historic agreement. They were once rivals — IBM was an early part of the whole “Wintel” thing with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) — but now they are working closely together.
IBM went on to develop software and cloud solutions to support Apple iPhones and iPads at the enterprise level, and sold AAPL’s mobile devices through its business channels.
Last year, IBM began promoting a similar service for Macs. But it went even further, beginning to replace its own employees’ Windows PCs with Apple Mac computers. The timing of the move wasn’t great advertising for Microsoft, which was promoting the rollout of Windows 10 and moving into business-focused PC hardware production itself with the Surface Pro tablet and Surface Book laptop.
There were many doubters, primarily because Mac PCs are seen as being more expensive than their Windows counterparts. Despite the popularity of Mac laptops in particular, many companies have been resistant to spending the money to buy them for employees.
IBM rolled out 30,000 Mac computers that year. The project has been such a success, that the number of Macs being used at IBM has now grown to 90,000.
Why Macs Are Popular With IBM, But Hated by Some IT Staff
MacRumors reported on the Jamf Nation User Conference, which took place earlier this week. IBM sent a VP to present an update on the company’s Mac initiative. He told attendees that 73% of employees have requested their next computer be a Mac and that IBM was rolling out the AAPL computers at a rate of 1,300 per week.
The kicker is the cost. IBM says the Macs are actually saving it big money compared to Windows computers.
How is this possible? The big factor is support costs.
IT staff don’t come cheap and IBM says it has just five administrators running those 90,000 Macs. That is an extremely low ratio. As pointed out in a Computerworld article on the topic, the arrival of Macs mean IT staff see their workload drop dramatically.
In the case of IBM, Computerworld says Windows PCs users require tech support at eight times the rate of Mac users. Apple’s computers tend to be easier to set up, more reliable, more secure and easier to use than Windows PCs as well. Ultimately, that means less reliance on IT staff and fewer of them required. So a move to Mac may not always be popular with a company’s IT department, which may find itself over-staffed.
IBM says that over the four-year lifespan of an average enterprise computer, it’s on track to realize cost savings of up to $543 for every Mac that replaces a Windows PC — compared to “the best pricing we’ve ever gotten from Microsoft.” It’s expecting to top 100,000 Macs deployed by the end of the year.
AAPL calls its computers “a breath of fresh air for IT” in its Mac in Business marketing, which is a pretty delicate approach. The company seems to prefer letting enterprise sales partner IBM do any of the mud-slinging. However, with examples like this, Apple definitely has the ammunition needed to take a real swipe at Windows PCs, defend its premium pricing model and push Mac sales for both business and consumers.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.