How Apple Won Our Mini Enterprise Contract

Until recently, Apple had no good inexpensive computer in its lineup. There was the Mac Mini but the graphics were crappy built-in on-board Intel adapters. As an ex Macbook owner, I knew how weak that chip is.

On the other hand, the Mac Mini with the 9400GF is a real computer. A Core2Duo processor at 2 GHz can handle anything except gaming and high end video editing.

I hope to hell my staff are not gaming and I know we aren't doing high end video editing these days. If we decide to start, I'll get a more powerful computer.

I know that when we do go to video editing, there are no audio and video sync issues on Macs (sync issues are the historic bugaboo of video editing on Windows computers).

We've just bought a total of six Mac Minis and Macbooks to switch Foliovision over to being primarily an Apple company. Here's why.

How Apple Won Our Mini Enterprise Contract

  • What is great about the Mini is that it is small and silent and powerful. We spend a huge amount of time finding and configuring custom power supplies and fans to make our Windows computers silent. Minis are silent out of the box (the power supply is on the floor). Silence is goal number one for our computers. That Macs used to be loud (even the G5 towers, I had one) was one good reason they didn’t have our business earlier.
  • We can move the OS around from computer to computer without going through a complicated and painful . I.e. we will build a standard setup for our Minis with all the software and extras onboard that we want and just clone it from one machine to another.
  • All hardware is compatible (limited choice but what exists works)
  • I know all the software so whatever software anyone needs I can tell them off the top of my head which one to install
  • We are all licensed software. Which means we are paying for our work tools anyway. As we are paying for our tools, we’d like nice ones. We’ve tried Linux but it is too widely configurable (i.e. too much choices so you end up spending time fiddling) and suffers from the same issues as Windows (driver and hardware compatibility issues).
  • Maintenance is minimal and I don’t have to dedicate a staff member to working just on the computers (adding 5 more Windows boxes means that the IT guy would be almost unavailable for anything except computer maintenance).
  • I want my programmers to write simpler, more attractive software which means they shouldn’t be on Windows or Linux as Windows is ugly and complicated and Linux is just too complicated. We aren’t writing for other programmers but for real estate agents and best selling authors. Simple and attractive are Steve Job’s watchwords and ours too.

How Apple Almost Lost Our Business

  • Minis are very difficult to get into. We almost didn’t buy them at all as it is so difficult to change RAM and hard drives. I figured we are buying enough of them that we will get good at opening up the little devils.
  • The warranty period is inadequate. All computer makers in Europe are offering two years. Apple is trying to offer one, along with a paid upgrade to three years. Yes for a laptop, no for a desktop. By the time you buy the extended Apple-Care on a desktop, it’s no longer a cost effective solution.
  • There is no reasonable step up. iMacs are lovely computers but it’s next to impossible to change the hard drive. Guess what? We just won’t buy a computer in which we can’t change the hard drive ourselves. Crashed hard drives are the number one hardware issue and we expect to be able to deal with it without lugging a heavy iMac around town. Moreover the top of the line new quad iMac was issued without an external SATA port. For no good reason Apple has limited us to FireWire 800. Even FW 800 raid with 80 MB/sec throughput is not fast enough for HD video and just adequate for heavy duty photo processing.
  • Custom video ports. We have to buy five mini-DVI adapters and five miniDisplay adapters for our dual head setups. Fortunately there are third party solutions now which come in at €8 to €15 per adapter instead of Apples €25 to €29. Tell me again why Apple are not using DVI and displayport instead?

Conclusion

The computers are arriving this week. We'll be setting them up over the holidays. I'll be back with some tips on how to set up Macs for enterprise use straight out of the box.

Microsoft had our business until they lost it with complicated licensing.

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4 Responses to How Apple Won Our Mini Enterprise Contract

  1. Tom B

    I really wish they make Mini’s easier to open….

  2. Tom, I have to say I agree with that. We are going to get very, very good at opening them, but it’s a pity Apple doesn’t just make it easy to do. It wouldn’t cost any money to do so (a few cents, the price of a couple of screws).

    Apple almost lost our contract on account of how hard it is to open the Minis. But I have to say with one of these minis sitting on my desk, they are quiet. I can’t hear it at all. My LCD display makes more noise.

  3. The best tool for imaging and deploying of mac images is called Deploy Studio, free and easy to use. You setup one mac, customise whatever display, video, language or user template, image it; copy the image to your deploy server and you can rollout the image across your network in relatively little time.

  4. Thanks for that tip Phil.

    For inquiring minds: Deploy Studio is donationware so it’s no trouble to try, as if you don’t use it much, you aren’t deeply invested. If you do like it, then you can donate.

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