Dream Apples

July 14, 2004

Being back in the IT side of things for about three weeks now, I’m starting to form a new opinion about Apple and it’s share in the enterprise.

On the PC side of things, the small form-factor cases with simple latches for access to everything from hard drives to the main system board, is the standard. Nice looking black cases, tiny, and easy to remove/upgrade parts. Basically a laptop without a built-in screen.

While it looks great to some people, I’ve been around Apple products for a while and know they could do it better. Just toying around with the G4s and new G5s at work, I know it’s a simple process to add memory, remove a hard drive, exchange cd drives and a couple of other things, all with one latch to open the large case. The thing I like about the cases, is their expandability. But for general office use, they’re just too big.

Apple went more for style with their only foray into this type of design: the G4 Cube. It’s a nice small computer, but it’s hell to upgrade. It’s even spawned companies who provide larger cases for those Cube owners who want to expand. People like these small systems, but they would be ideal for Apple’s extended launch into the enterprise.

Now all of this “wishlist” could be checked-off, once Apple reveals the new iMac in the early fall, but for now here is what I’d like to see:

small dell caseA case, no thicker than 1 and a half, two at the most, 12″ PowerBooks. I really don’t care if it’s in aluminum, titanium, or the opaque plastic of the iBook. It would be really nice if that case could be position vertically. The Dell to the right, is roughly 12.5 x 3.5

Easy access case, where the hard drive & memory could be accessed within milliseconds. Nothing like the iBook, where you have to basically dismantle the entire machine to change a hard drive. It should be tech friendly, where they could work on a machine on-site, instead of taking it back to an office. Dead machine? Pull the drive and put it into a new one….30 seconds-60 seconds tops.

Wireless keyboard/mouse combination. For offices without a lot of space, the system could actually be thrown into a desk without worry about it’s position away from the system. Apple has depended on styling for it’s mice, and what I’m about to suggest will kill that to an extent: Combine the Pro keyboard with a touchpad…kinda like the 20th Anniversary Macintosh . It would help on small desks, like the small case would.

That’s the basic design, but I would also suggest that Apple also make their Remote Desktop , freeware. Where these systems can be managed and setup remotely, dramatically reducing the cost of upkeep. The overhead on that software isn’t much, you don’t need an xServe to run, but just making it available without cost, would push a better solution for desktop management into the enterprise.

Problems

One of the few problems, I almost expect I’d run into, would be with installing Quark or something like PitStop on a Ghost/Clone image, where it immediately balks if another machine is running with that same serial number on the network. Which would mean that Quark and Pitstop would both have to be reinstalled, completely a waste of the cloning process imho. Instead of having individual key servers, a plug-in could be created to manage serials for a specific product, through Apple’s Remote Desktop.

Pie-in-the-sky

Ok, that’s my “wishlist” for an enterprise-friendly Apple computer. I don’t expect it to happen soon, maybe as Apple gets the iPod division running smooth, they’ll really revamp their enterprise solutions and address what the Windows-running enterprise has known for years.