Apple, The Enterprise, and Moral Obligations

A Blogger, Anil Dash, came close to suggesting that Apple has a moral obligation to serve the enterprise market. That has precipitated a discussion amongst several notable authors in the Apple community about how Apple should deal with the enterprise and the corresponding political forces that cause corporations to defer on many Apple products. Mr. Dash has the best argument, according to Information Week on Thursday, but that argument remains wishful thinking.

It all started when The Wall Street Journal discussed how big corporations wouldnit adopt the iPhone due to its lack of native support for Microsoft Exchange. Several authors in the Mac community started debating why Apple took the design approach they did. The primary focus was Mr. Dashis argument that his company, Movable Type, achieves the desired goal, and he wrote: "You can meet all the (reasonable) requirements of an Enterprise while still creating a product that delights and inspires the people who make up that organization."

Thus, if corporations force users to use crappy tools and subjugate them, corporate users should revolt and demand more from the IT managers who are supposed to serve them, according to some. In order to assist in that process, the implication is that Apple has a moral obligation to do the same: make great enterprise products that employees love and still checks all the corporate IT boxes.

This author, who has worked for Apple in enterprise sales and written extensively on the problem, notes that thatis an issue that Apple has faced for nearly two decades, ever since Microsoft learned how to insinuate itself into and then control the corporate culture. The associated issues of small-minded, insecure, and power hungry IT managers have been discussed at length in the Apple community ever since the Internet went public, and there are no easy solutions for Apple.

Microsoft has learned how to create significant technical and strategic hurdles for Apple, and Apple, which has much bigger fish to fry than Movable Type, has learned that the only recourse is to make the very best products they can (focusing on consumers) within those constraints and follow their own business agenda. The topic of whether Apple has a moral obligation in the enterprise can flare up, but ultimately the resolution requires a cultural change, not editorial impositions on a corporation.