Wintel's relevance is threatened more than ever by today's post-PC world. And no company has led the charge into this brave, new world more than Apple. The company's growing dominance calls the staying power of the once-mighty Microsoft-Intel alliance into question.
Propelled by the massive success of its iPad and iPhone, Apple in 2012 became the world's most valuable company. The Cupertino, Calif.-based giant, according to analyst firm IHS iSuppli, managed to capture a whopping 70 percent of the worldwide tablet market in the third quarter, with its quarterly iPad sales surging to 17 million units.
Apple is also a force to be reckoned with in the smartphone market, where its iOS platform accounted for nearly 14 percent worldwide market share in the third quarter, according to Gartner. Apple's iOS was second only to Google's Android, which captured 72.9 percent share, but still beat out Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, which pulled 2.4 percent, by a long shot.
According to Gartner analyst Mike Silver, much of Apple's success can be attributed to the company's ability to "see what could be and think outside the box." Silver noted that, even though Microsoft experimented with mobile technologies like touch screens long before its competitors, it was Apple that brought these ideas mainstream and won over consumers' hearts with its simple and sleek designs.
"Microsoft had touch, pinch and zoom in their original [tablet] experiments in 2005, but it was Apple that revolutionized the world when it introduced the iPhone … in 2007," Silver said. "By the time Microsoft had touch devices, [it] lost the image of innovator and instead is seen as a copier. Microsoft tried to popularize tablets in 2002, but Apple made them work."
Arlin Sorensen, CEO of Heartland Technology Solutions, a solution provider and Apple partner based in Harlan, Iowa, agreed that much of Apple's success, both in the consumer and enterprise markets, lies in the simplicity of its products.
"Apple wins in the marketplace by creating technology that is simple to use and meets the needs of mobility and productivity for executives," Sorensen said. "The advent of the iPhone and iPad in the business arena is mostly a top-down event with executives bringing those devices into the workplace and insisting they be added to the corporate network."
Sorensen expects the proliferation of iPads and iPhones in the enterprise to accelerate with Apple's growing emphasis on the channel, potentially threatening Wintel's bread-and-butter business market even more than it already is.
"Apple is working with partners through their Apple Consultants Network program, doing some training and enabling partners to successfully implement their technology in a corporate environment. This is a departure from their past years, but they still have things to learn about effectively leveraging the channel," Sorensen told CRN. "If that happens, hang on, because the product really causes heads to turn."