End-Users Bring Apples Into Government

Macs and iPhones play a growing role inside the workplace.

by / January 12, 2009

"I think the debate between Macs versus PCs is over." -- Washington, D.C., CTO Vivek Kundra

Thanks to a trend toward "consumerization" in the workplace, Apple Macintosh computers and iPhones are gaining modest ground in the corporate and government enterprise. For example, a survey of corporate desktop operating systems trends published by Forrester Research in August found that since October 2006, use of Apple products had grown among its clients from 1.1 percent to 4.5 percent.

IT directors shy away from Apple products because they feel that the Cupertino, Calif., firm doesn't offer the kind of sales or technical support an enterprise requires, analysts say. (Apple would not supply a representative to comment.) But some government IT executives are embracing Macs and iPhones, at least in part because employees request them.

San Antonio is adding Macs to its computer base to help it attract a new generation of employees who demand more choice in the workplace. Current employees like the new machines, too. "I have executives in the city manager's office, in the legal office -- all ranks of the city -- who are lining up requesting to transition to the Mac environment," said Hugh Miller, the city's chief technology officer (CTO) and director of IT.

Washington, D.C., is piloting several iPhone applications, and it lets employees use either Macs or PCs, based on their preference. As the city increasingly emphasizes software as a service, the ability to use a browser to access applications in the cloud is becoming more important than the particular technology on the desk, said Vivek Kundra, the district's CTO. "I think the debate between Macs versus PCs is over."

Merrill Douglas Contributing Writer
Platforms & Programs