Resellers laud Snow Leopard but enterprise potential still lacking

Australian resellers experience high customer demand for Mac OS X version 10.6, but Gartner doesn’t see the OS as ‘enterprise ready’

Apple resellers are reporting strong consumer demand for the vendor’s Snow Leopard operating system (OS), but a Gartner analyst sees little potential for enterprise adoption.

Snow Leopard, officially called Mac OS X version 10.6, hit stores on August 28 . According to several Apple resellers, there has already been significant take-up of the product. Beyond the Box business manager, Michal Bogatko, said demand far exceeded expectations.

While previous systems touted an array of additional features as a major draw card, the vendor’s latest OS incarnation is more of a technical ‘under the hood’ upgrade for Mac computers.

“Over the past three years, Apple has been doing a big push into multicore processors and integrated graphics chipsets with dedicated graphics card,” Bogatko said. “Although it was a good technology, we weren’t seeing much performance increase out of it at first. Snow Leopard unleashes a lot of power that has been hidden away in the machines.”

Snow Leopard is the first Apple OS incompatible with Power PC processors, Apple’s preferred choice before migrating to Intel chipsets, but Bogatko said the vendor had given users ample warning when the previous iteration was launched in 2007.

Bogatko also highlighted its attractive price point as key to the product’s early popularity. Upgrading from Apple’s previous OS costs $39, while the box set upgrade from the Tiger OS is $229.

In contrast, upgrading from Microsoft Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium costs $199. Opt for a Professional version, and the upgrade price skyrockets to $399.99.

Maccentric Chatswood store manager, Nick Barker, said the OS sold out over the first weekend. While he agreed the price tag contributed to Snow Leopard’s popularity, he highlighted speed and size as the most compelling features for professional-level Mac users.

“We have noticed a speed increase,” Barker said. “We tried to crash the OS by opening up multiple applications and it handled it better than the old Leopard OS. The Snow Leopard is also smaller with the essential software being about 3.6GB, so it saves space.”

But while Snow Leopard boasts native support of Microsoft Exchange 2007 for email and calendaring, which will appeal to commercial customers, Gartner wasn’t convinced Apple was enterprise ready.

In a Gartner research note titled Exchange Support in New Mac OS Will Create End User Demand, analyst, Michael Silver, said it was still difficult to replace Windows PCs with Mac in a workplace.

“Apple is not addressing business needs for service or support and most organisations will continue to require Windows to run a majority of their applications,” he said. “Furthermore, to the extent Mac users may still require Office – either natively on Mac OS or running in a Windows virtual machine – native Exchange support, which does not support Outlook personal store files (PSTs), will address only part of the user problem.”