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IBM goes Apple: Helpdesk calls way down compared to Windows

Published Oct 19th, 2015 6:50PM EDT

IBM, at one time a Windows PC heavyweight, is now deploying Macs internally and is seeing a precipitous drop in helpdesk calls.

How precipitous? Only 5 percent of Mac users call the helpdesk, compared to 40 percent of PC users, according to Fletcher Previn, VP of Workplace-as-a-Service at IBM, who spoke about the program at a conference held recently in Minneapolis.

Based on the positive results, IBM is now rolling out Macs to its employees at a rate of 1,900 devices per week.  The tally so far for the four-month-old program is 130,000 Macs and iOS devices into the hands of IBM employees, according to a post from JAMF Software’s user conference, where Previn was speaking.

Related: Microsoft will pay you to switch from Mac

And IBM is managing all of those devices with a tiny staff of 24 people, which comes to one helpdesk person for every 5,400 devices.

All of the above was enough to get Apple’s Phil Schiller to tweet: “When 5 > 40,” referring to the 5 percent versus 40 percent of users who call the helpdesk.

Demand had always been strong for the Mac at IBM but until recently, with the exception of a small group of designers and Mac software programmers, Macs were not allowed at the tech giant, according to a Network World report that quotes Previn.

Related: Apple has designed a MacBook that’s almost a tablet

One of the problems has been a longstanding bias against the Mac at IBM. The “status quo thinking” has been that the Mac is too pricey, more challenging to support, and would require retraining of the helpdesk staff, according to the JAMF post.  But after meeting with Apple, IBM realized that the two companies were similar – large organizations with global business operations – and both were experiencing similar problems in their IT departments.  During the meeting, IBM also recognized that Apple was managing a large number of devices with significantly less resources than typically found in Windows PC-only environments.

One of the ironies is that IBM was a PC pioneer in the early 1980s and subsequently became one of the largest Windows PC suppliers in the world.  IBM eventually sold its PC business to Lenovo and over the last decade has become a software and services company.

As part of this transformation at IBM, last year it formed a partnership with Apple to bring business apps to the iPhone and iPad.

Also working in Apple’s favor is its larger share of the PC market in the U.S.  While Windows PC shipments have been declining in the U.S., Apple beat Lenovo in the most recent quarter and was ranked No. 3 in the U.S. market, according to tech research firm IDC.

by Brooke Crothers

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