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I think Apple's making a big play for the business market

I think Apple's making a big play for the business market

While there’s all sorts of chatter about how Apple is (or isn’t) extending its reach in the consumer electronics space with its shiny new OS and a slew of rumored new i-devices, I think there’s an at least equally strong strategy in play to become a much bigger player in the business space.

As someone who uses Apple products in both the business and consumer worlds, I see recent moves as a big signal that Apple wants to infiltrate the office in a big way. Start, for example, with the Apple TV and iPad.

The Airplay mirroring feature in iOS5 makes Apple products a no-brainer as a replacement for the tired old screen and projector found in most conference rooms.

At a minimum, such a rig (projector and screen) will run around $450. All it will do is hook to a computer, and then there’s a Babel-ish roster of adapters that have to be kept at hand.

In contrast, an Apple TV ($99), a decent flatscreen ($200) and an iPad ($499) for a total of $800 will do a lot more for a little more. And that’s not even a fair comparison, because the projector version doesn’t account for the cost of the computer. Apples-to-apples, it’s more like $150 difference in favor of the Apple TV setup, which will also eliminate the need for wired connection, making it easy for many parties to connect. Also, it can be used in screensaver mode as a company news or propaganda board. Recent revelations that the ATV has bluetooth support in iOS5 suggests keyboard extensibility. And look: Facetime video conferencing. Add a browser (which Apple is likely to do), and you might not even need the iPad to make the rig work. Cheaper, more extensible and smarter than the traditional version.

Now comes news that Apple is creating a bulk purchase model for apps for businesses and a model for custom B2B apps that aren’t available to the consumer app store in general. Imagine quickly deploying a key app across an organization, or offering volume discounting on a mobile business app.

This sure looks to me like a direct assault on the business market for computing — one of the few area’s where Apple has been notoriously weak.

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