Here’s the Real Reason Microsoft Should Be Worried About Apple

It’s time to wipe that smug look off your face and work on a new strategy, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The statistics the company always cited in response to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) growing cult — statistics that show it to have a complete hold on the workplace — have changed.

Research firm Forrester found that 46 percent of all corporations now issue Apple’s Mac computers to workers instead of PCs. “The use of iPads and iPhones in the workplace is creating increased awareness and consideration of Macs,” Forrester’s principal analyst, Frank Gillett, told Wall Street Journal.

Business sales of Macs grew 50.9 percent at the end of 2011 and accounted for 34.9 percent of the platform’s total year-over-year growth, according to analyst Charlie Wolf, who added that Apple’s efforts to add features to OS X to make it integrate with Microsoft’s network environment were helping considerably. The high cost of the Mac computers was the main reason cited for the Microsoft Windows-based PCs keeping their small majority in the workplace, but the cheaper MacBook Air, which starts at $999, has chipped at that advantage.

At Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), for instance, employees can choose between a PC and a Mac, and 25 percent of the company’s 63,870 employees have already opted for the latter.

Microsoft’s contention that user comfort and familiarity will keep giving it the edge in the workplace is also getting shot down. CBS Interactive (NYSE:CBS) chief technology officer Peter Yared replaced employee computers with Macs instead of PCs in October and said the biggest surprise was that people didn’t need any training in using the Apple machines.

Forrester also found that managers and executives were twice as likely to use Apple products than PCs. Apple was also the more preferred option for younger workers and those with higher income levels, and were also the default choice of most Silicon Valley startups.

Microsoft clearly needs a new play.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aabha Rathee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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