The emergence of BYOD policies and virtual desktop platforms, plus new integration and management tools, have removed the final barriers to widespread Mac adoption in the enterprise.
And while Macs still cost more than PCs, IT shops are looking at the bigger ROI picture and figuring that improvements in employee productivity, reduced help desk costs and better inherent security can offset the higher sticker price.
"Over the past 15 years, Apple targeted every argument against them and made them moot,' says Matt Heric, CEO at IAVO Scientific, an engineering software development company in the US.
After being a 100% PC shop, IAVO employees are now all on Macs. This even includes the company's engineers, who once thought PCs would remain the primary tool in software engineering.
Analysts are predicting that 2013 will be a big year for Macs in the enterprise. In a report released in mid-2012, Gartner forecasted that the Mac would see more than 20% year-over-year growth in the business market, while the PC would see about a 5% drop.
GE brings the Mac to life
General Electric has about 330,000 computers on employee desktops, of which only 2,500 are Macs. But those Mac numbers should trend upward as more employees take advantage of an employee choice programme, says CTO Gregory Simpson.
"When we were having BYOD discussions employees said they wanted a choice. At the time, we wanted to be a single-platform shop so we could get scale pricing. But with the Mac, we could buy a whole bunch or just a few, so that didn't matter. We had two PC vendors and Apple ticked up in part because the form factor was attractive even to PC users," he says.
He says another factor in offering Macs as a choice was the growth of iPhones at GE. The company had 10,000 in August of 2011, and that grew to 30,000 in August 2012.
What's more, the company's new employee choice programme and support of both iPhones and Macs have become a positive recruiting tool because it communicates that it is a contemporary company, he says.
Forrester released a report in September detailing why more large companies are turning to the Mac. "One thing we found is it's clear that there's more confidence in the Mac for the perception of security - it's more secure than a Windows machine. That's hard to argue, because historically there have been relatively few intrusions on the Mac," says analyst Dave Johnson, the report's primary author.
Cisco was a leader in bringing Macs into the enterprise. The company now has 28,000 Macs out of an installed base of about 80,000 PCs.
"We're seeing a change in the make up of PCs versus Macs that are not employee owned, but company owned. We are seeing a shift toward Macs,' says Sheila Johnson, a senior vice president at the company.
"Employees can choose Macs if that's what they want. Some 40% of our employees, including a large portion of our contractors who work here at the headquarters are on Macs, and we've seen 11% quarter-over-quarter growth of that platform. We also saw more growth globally than PC growth in November," she adds.
In terms of support, Cisco IT learned that when Macs first came into the company - and it had 2,500 that were not IT-supported - they were self-supported by employees.
"It should be a last resort to call the help desk when you have a support problem. To avoid this, within the community we provide actions, content and policies, and chat. All this is part of our self-support offering, which started on the Mac. That's improved our employees' confidence in the Mac platform and helped drive adoption. Employees love it. It's simple and easy to use on PCs, Macs, iPhones and iPads." Johnson added.