3 Apple trends businesses can’t ignore

Not too long ago, most businesses didn't have to worry too much about what Apple was doing. The typical enterprise IT department was dominated by Windows machines, with Macs primarily being used in design and similar creative settings, but not in many other areas. The mobile device revolution has changed this dynamic.

With smartphones and tablets playing a larger role in the enterprise IT ecosystem, organizations face mounting pressure to remain aware of what is happening within the Apple ecosystem and plan accordingly. With this in mind, here are three major Apple news items companies should be aware of and how the events taking place may impact businesses.

"Responding to an annual device release cycle can be a nightmare for IT departments."

1. New iPhone on the the horizon
Industry sources indicate that a keynote address detailing new features for the iPhone 8 will take place on September 12, Mac4Ever reported. The news source has received some confirmation of this news from telecom operators, but it is important to note that Mac4Ever is a European publication, so some of its predictions may be specific to that marketplace. That said, the iPhone is very much a global product and the September event fits with the typical Apple release cycle. If the conference detailing the iPhone 8 does take place on September 12, the news source expects the new device to hit store shelves by September 22nd. While all of this is prognostication, Mac4Ever is working with details from telecom industry sources. 

Responding to an annual device release cycle can be a nightmare for IT departments, but with a new iPhone on the horizon, it is time to start preparing. As employees refresh their Apple smartphones – whether they are going all-in on a new iPhone 8 or using the update to upgrade to an older version, such as an iPhone 5 user taking advantage of likely discounts on iPhone 7s models – IT teams need to be ready to onboard those devices onto the network. Handling an influx of new devices can be easier if organizations:

  • Establish self-service portals where users can log their device change and verify their phones within the enterprise configuration.
  • Re-communicate rules and regulations around personal smartphone use in the workplace.
  • Consider how any existing apps and services may respond to a new device – or to iOS 11, which Mac4Ever predicted will become available shortly after the release of the iPhone 8.

These processes can be complex and time-consuming, but organizations that get a head start can avoid being inundated with help desk requests down the line.

2. Apple finding great deal of success with services
A Forbes report analyzing Apple's recently quarterly earnings report found that the company say just a 1.5 percent year-over-year increase in device sales. Conversely, Apple is experiencing a boom market for services. The company's services organization expanded by 22 percent year-over-year. To a great extent, this trend shows that Apple is still finding considerable success with its core Apple Store offering. However, the news source expects the tech giant to only ramp up services investments moving forward as its ARKit takes hold.

With Apple benefiting more from services than devices, it is clear that today's mobile device environment is increasingly driven by the apps users can leverage, not the specific smartphones and tablets they use to get to those services. This isn't to say that devices don't matter anymore or argue that they are becoming a commodity. However, the profitability of services does show that innovation in the apps sector is happening faster than in the device market. Businesses must keep this in mind as they consider their strategies for responding to the bring-your-own-device movement.

It isn't enough for companies to simply track devices and ensure best practices are followed. Organizations embracing BYOD need to create their own app ecosystems to satisfy end-user demand and prevent workers from turning to consumer apps with company data. Custom programming and development services can be instrumental here by helping organizations ramp up their app creation efforts without putting an excess strain on internal IT teams.

As leading mobile brands such as Apple continue to build out better app ecosystems, they put pressure on businesses to keep up and offer robust employee and customer experiences.

"IT departments are going to need to ramp up their Mac security."

3. New security challenges
Mac systems have long held a simple security advantage over other devices – their were generally so few of them in the market that hackers rarely targeted the devices. Throw in Apple's focus on security and interest in data privacy and organizations could safely use Apple devices with minimal worry. A report from SC Magazine said that those days when Apple devices could fly under the radar are gone. While some industry pundits will still tell the same story about Macs not getting viruses, the proliferation of Apple devices has made those solutions a target.

Thomas Reed, director of Mac and mobile at Malwarebytes, told the news source that new Mac malware entries are hitting the market at a rapid pace. One standout entry, Proton RAT, is a trojan that can steal data the macOS keychain or auto-fill data on internet browsers to identify a user's password. More sophisticated and robust forms of malware are targeting Macs, but not all attacks are so subtle. Malwarebytes also expects Potentially Unwanted Programs, such as fake anti-virus products, to take over the Mac App Store in 2018.

Enterprise IT departments are going to need to ramp up their Mac security, update and maintenance strategies to stay ahead of these threats. Assuming a system is safe because there isn't much malware out there targeting Macs isn't a viable option. The ability to rely on Apple to filter out potentially risky apps on the store isn't workable. Businesses may need to start making more updates and patches to Macs as a result of this new security climate, meaning they'll have to brush up on their skills.

With so much changing in the Apple world, companies have a great deal to think about. Organizations that want Apple training for users, Mac IT support or technology consulting can benefit from working with a strategic partner specializing in Apple devices and services. The more complex computing environment in the IT world needs to be taken seriously. With more devices and operating systems playing a large role in configurations, technology teams may not be able to keep up with rapid update and support cycles. The right partnerships can go a long way in alleviating this burden as the Apple world continues to evolve.