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Special Report: New ads, products help Apple polish its business image

Will sexy sell?

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Apple’s high-profile campaign to introduce its Titanium PowerBook G4 is another sign that the company is looking to grab a bigger piece of the b-to-b market.

The new notebook significantly updates the PowerBook line, which has been stagnant for the past couple of years, and gives Apple a greater chance of competing in the portable market. Apple CEO Steve Jobs called the notebook the "sexiest portable around" at the recent Macworld trade gathering.

But sexy doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. The biggest challenge for Apple is figuring a way to gain market share in a world dominated by Windows and promulgated by such corporate powerhouses as Compaq Computer Corp., Sony Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Despite its recent improvements, Apple may still find itself cornered into its market strongholds, such as education, graphic design, desktop publishing and small business.

"Macintosh has a significant business presence, but it’s concentrated on very niche areas such as design," said PC Data Inc. analyst Stephen Baker. "I don’t see them competing against Dell or Compaq for the enterprise space. Selling 100,000 personal computers to Ford isn’t their thing."

Kleynhans added that companies aren’t looking for flashy packaging or sex appeal. They’re looking for power, reliability and manageability. And if businesses are going to adopt any kind of new operating platform, it will most likely be something that’s entirely different, such as a Web-based or wireless offering.

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