Disties Say Apple Showing Significant Growth In SMB Space

The NPD Group's 2009 Household Penetration Study found that 12 percent of U.S. computer-owning households own an Apple computer, up from 9 percent last year.

"If it's 12 percent in households, it's probably smaller but it's climbing for commercial," said Kevin Prewett, vice president of vendor management for systems, peripherals and digital signage at Ingram Micro. "I've never been asked to put a number on it, or seen a number for commercial, but it's on the incline here."

Recent college graduates entering the workforce are also asking for Macs because they are more comfortable with it, Prewett said.

"If people had two jobs to choose from and one was a Mac, they were choosing the one they're comfortable with. There's less of that now because the job market has gotten worse, but when it comes back, you'll see them pushing for the product they know and are comfortable with," Prewett said.

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Apple's momentum in the market is echoed at Tech Data, said Bob Shouse, senior manager of Tech Data's Apple specialized business unit.

"The numbers are increasing for developing B2B business as Apple puts more solutions into the SMB market," Shouse said.

Shouse said Mac's increased market share is leading more ISVs to build more applications for the Mac platform. Those solutions being implemented into the SMB space run the gamut from health care to his bread-and-butter -- the video surveillance market.

"In the past, video surveillance could be run on the Mac platform but only if you were running something like Parallels [a PC virtualization solution]. Now videoNext runs native on OS X, Snow Leopard. That gives us a great opportunity," Shouse said.

Shouse agreed that as more young people enter the workforce having grown up using iPods and iPhones, they're more comfortable using Apple products in the corporate environment.

"The iPhone, while it's not ubiquitous as BlackBerry, still owns the market, but you see more iPhones showing up in the corporate world," Shouse said.

Shouse uses an iPhone as a business device, and he said reports of integration issues into corporate networks are overblown.

"In the days when you had to be connected to the mainframe, to literally be plugged into a wall socket, it would be more difficult. Today, everything is done in the cloud. More companies run their platforms off Web-, or cloud-based, applications. I get my e-mail, can connect to a server using Citrix and get to even enterprise applications using my iPhone and be very productive that way," he said.

Of those 12 percent of households with Macs, nearly 85 percent also use a Windows-based PC, meaning that users are in favor of mixed-system environments, according to NPD.

Nearly two-thirds of Apple households also have three or more PCs, compared to just 29 percent of Windows-only households.