An Apple for the Boss

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products are popular inside businesses, but they aren’t for everyone. Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, surveyed 10,000 information workers in 17 countries to see who uses an iPad, iPhone or Macintosh at work. The study was motivated in part by what Gillett calls the “air travel and Starbucks effect.” He noticed more and more Apple’s being used by road warriors and $4 latte-drinkers, which were presumably more affluent.

The study did indeed find that 43 percent of people making more than $150,000 a year use an iPhone, iPad or Mac for work. Only 27 percent of people earning $100,000-149,999 said they use an Apple product for work, and 23 percent of people making $50,000-99,999 a year and 19 percent of earners below $50,000 said the same.  Forty-one percent of those surveyed who use Apple products for work call themselves “directors.”  For self-identified “managers” and “workers,” the numbers were 27 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

An interesting notion is how this income breakdown mirrors the story of how Apple products are making their way into offices, which was once Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows PC territory. The insight is that Apple is benefiting from the so-called trend of “consumerization,” where information technology departments are being forced to use technologies like mobile phones, tablets and social media by workers who are already using them secretively at work.

The trend is true, but it also shows that top workers at companies are sneaking around with the devices too. It might be because well-paid executives simply have more money to spend on Apple products. It could also be that they have more power to convince their departments to use Apple products. Gillett says he feels the people in lower-earning categories using Apple products will grow. “Someone influential walks into I.T. and says, ‘Hey, you gotta make email work on my iPad,’ ” he said. At some point, it gets very hard for I.T. to say, ‘No, you can’t have it.’ “