Why iOS Could Become the Enterprise OS of the Millennial Generation

For the majority of my life, Windows and the Mac have been the operating systems that have dominated my personal computing experiences. iOS and Android only recently have become supplemental operating systems I use in my smartphones and tablets. But I believe there is a changing of the “OS Guard” happening as Gen Y and Gen Z users grow up and become millennials and move into the business sector. The tech tools they use and how they use them will be quite different than the generation before.

This younger generation does use PCs. However, they actually spend the most time on their iPhones and iPads and Macs are mostly relegated to serious productivity projects. More importantly, they know iOS inside and out as they spend much more of their day in this operating system then they do on any computer they have. I believe Apple understands this better than anyone and their most recent iPad Pro is a nod to this trend. More importantly, I see Apple using this to drive millennials towards making iOS their OS of choice as they move into their careers and new jobs. In fact, within 5-7 years, I suspect Windows will not even be of interest to this younger set, as iOS will be the device operating system that dominates their work and personal lifestyles.

Tim Cook told the audience at the recent launch event that the iPad Pro is “the clearest expression of our vision of the future of personal computing.” Steve Jobs basically said the same thing at the original iPad launch when he called the PC a truck and tablets cars. Cook also said in a Buzzfeed interview recently, “I think that some people will never buy a computer because I think now we’re at the point where the iPad does what some people want to do with their PCs”. 

I believe Apple’s goal with the iPad Pro is to make it the next major tool they provide to all, especially millennials, and make it the logical device they take with them when they join the workforce. An iPad Pro with a keyboard and iOS will handle the majority of what they need in their job. And, thanks to Microsoft, even Office on iOS and hundreds of other business class apps are being created for iOS each month. Even if they bring their Macs with them, Apple’s continuum strategy makes it easy to go between a Mac and an iPad Pro and work seamlessly on either without skipping a beat. It is not a coincidence that IBM has ported over 100 of their enterprise-class mobile management and security tools to iOS. With the iPad Pro, Apple is poised to bring the Apple ecosystem to the business market in a dramatic way and it will be the millennials who drive it into mainstream businesses over the next 5 years.

If this happens, it will have major ramifications for the PC industry. If the millennials, who will be a major force in the business world within the next 5-7 years, opt for iOS, what does that mean for Microsoft? It is unfortunate Steve Ballmer said the iPhone would be a flop and did not give the Microsoft teams the support they needed for them to do their own competitive product immediately after the iPhone came out. Getting millennials to use Windows Phones could have ensured a Windows future. While Windows will still have life while my generation is in charge of the business tools, when millennial numbers grow in the ranks of business users and take over the IT management jobs dominated by my generation today, will Windows even be relevant in business if iOS is the dominant OS for this age group?

And how will this impact Dell, HP, and Lenovo — whose financial lifeblood is tied to Windows today? Millennials making iOS the dominant OS over time would surely impact their current business model. This won’t happen fast. But if iOS is the dominant OS for Gen Y, Gen Z and millennials and they are our future workforce, within 5-10 years Apple could be the one that dominates all aspects of the business and consumer markets.

Apple is crazy like a fox with this strategy. 

One could say the iPhone and iPad with iOS is laying the groundwork for Apple to eventually own, not only the consumer market but, over time, the business market too. Steve Jobs was the master planner of this strategy. While he lost out to Bill Gates and the Windows crowd for the first thirty years, if Apple executes this plan as I think they will, Jobs’ team could dominate the world of personal computing over the next 30 years. Although Tim Cook has been charged to execute this strategy, make no mistake — Jobs was the architect. From the beginning of the Mac era for Apple, Jobs had hoped and probably expected it to become the business tool of choice when compared to a DOS-based PC back in 1984. However, he misjudged Microsoft’s ability to adapt to a GUI based world and the PC continued to reign in business for decades.

Jobs knew he lost my generation and the Gen Xers but understood that, if he could get the generation after them hooked on his newest OS, iOS could someday become the cornerstone of his broader strategy to undermine Windows in business and slowly but strategically create the hardware platform Apple could use to drive iOS well beyond its consumer base. The iPad Pro is their first serious tool at the heart of this strategy — move iOS into mainstream business. You can bet Apple has other hardware platforms in the works that support this direction. Perhaps a clamshell with touch using iOS is not far around the corner.

The Mac will still be an important part of this strategy too, but I think they are content with its position changing and letting the iPad Pro and future iOS products be the tool millennials and the generation after them carry when they join the workforce. That is why their continuum software is more strategic to their longer-term strategy than any of us expected.

It is clear to me Apple is not content with just owning the consumer market, something that was a key part of Jobs’ goal since he rejoined the company in 1997. But make no mistake, Jobs wanted to own the entire market and it appears to me that, by getting this younger generation hooked on iOS, Cook and his team just might be able to deliver. 

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

100 thoughts on “Why iOS Could Become the Enterprise OS of the Millennial Generation”

  1. I’m always uncomfortable with the semantic slide from “Mobile” to “iOS” (ditto for from “Tablets” to “iPad”).

    Mobile OSes are certainly having an impact, first because they’re mobile (the best tool for the job is the one you have on you), second because they’re easy. They’re unlocking a lot of use cases (and of users) for which portability and ease are key. As well as social value.

    I’m not sure how far up the corp IT food chain those 3 fortes can get mobile OSes though. In the entreprise, a whole new set of requirements pop up (interoperability, control, homogeneity, security, price…) and mobility/ease/sexiness are not as valued, at least in many use cases. And I’m not sure corps are looking forward to having to support 2-3 platforms instead of 1.

    Plus iOS and Apple seem particularly ill-suited for corp IT: single supplier, expensive, closed, opinionated, mobile-only… I’m not sure at all iOS’s “trickle up” will be stronger than Windows’ (or Windows/Android combos) trickle down into tablets.

    1. You really get hung up on this “single supplier” thing, don’t you? Every. Time. I guess it is decreed, somewhere, that a “computer” and its OS have to come as two distinct parts. Like, maybe, TV’s and their guts should, too. Oh, wait, Apple is the only one that fits that bill ;). Buy any case of your choice, but allow one company to supply the “smarts”, as MS did/does for PCs. Why not just be glad that Apple provides a balance to the single vendor situation in OS’s that has plagued the world for three decades? “Hey, we’re all in on MS, but at least we bought hardware from three equally crappy OEMs! to satisfy our purchase policy” What a crock (and read Horace about failure of obsolete purchase systems).

      But, hang on, maybe multiple suppliers are involved: Apple hardware and IBM or Cisco support and apps; or, Apple hardware and cloud services, like SalesForce, etc. Anyway in mixed shops, Apple devices and OS’s do just fine (arguably, better than anyone else, out of necessity). So, no-one has to violate some kind of obsession with a multi-vendor policy. However, people soon discover that using more Apple products together enhances workflow and productivity well beyond the mere use of individually better tools, and I think that is what you are really afraid of.

      1. Your analogy with a TV is almost right. You just need to add only playing approved shows, requiring you to buy specific wiring, cable box, DVR, DVD player…
        The specialist+layered approach has several advantages, which you don’t seem to grasp:
        1- buyers can switch suppliers for a lot of the layers, including the HW layer, but also the OS+apps layer, we’ve all seen those occasional “XXX switching to Linux” reports. That creates a buyers’ market, bad for suppliers but buyers would be myopic to relinquish that lever.
        2- buyers have more leverage. Apple reneged on commitments to line up servers, and forcibly evolved their OS, devices… MS couldn’t do that, the sacrosanct Win32 compatibility has never been threatened, however much of a trammel it is.
        3- choice regarding hardware. Apple would be hard-pressed to provide all the variants that currently exist in the Windows and Android ecosytems: rugged, cheap, XLarge, desktop, laptop…

        You might observe that most of the other companies you cite are substitutable: Cisco, IBM… and SalesForce mostly. Maybe there’s a reason for that ?

        Apple still might have arguments. Except they can’t be “my friends will love me more”, they need to be hard-nosed productivity facts. We’ll see how that goes.

        On a personal level (not the subject, but you rise it) I’m not really “afraid” (sic) either way. Just unwilling to relinquish my long-term freedom for short-term ease and shiny and 3x more $$.

        1. I do grasp those things. What you don’t seem to grasp is that it isn’t an all or nothing thing. An IT policy to exclude Apple conveniently uses a purchasing policy as an excuse not to extend the freedom to its employees that you go on about. When Apple products would be most productive, suitable and economic for certain departments or tasks, as many companies have found.

          Your notion of “freedom” is quite an illusory one for the most part: sounds like freedom to regret and correct a bad purchase decision because part of it is salvageable or applicable to a follow-up purchase! How about freedom to get on with the job at hand in an effective way? Hedging against the long-term in order to justify using a series of poor products isn’t particularly strategic.

          “Short-term ease”? What’s short-term? A three-year buying cycle that can be extended to 5 with an Apple product? On one hand you dismiss Apple as catering to “shiny” and being important for “looking good” (another of your posts), but really just want to justify purchasing a series of poorer or less adequate products. An Apple user sees a very practical formula: a “3x” up front price (if it really is that) procures 5 or 6x the productivity and output and 6x less hassle and expense during its life, for greater ROI the long term.

          Yes, MS hasn’t “forcibly evolved” its OS — only screwed it up on numerous occasions. Which is why companies stay on one version such as XP for umpteen years and yet pay loads of support, service and networking fees. And if a change in version is ventured, it is about as painful as trying and supporting a completely new OS like OS X.

          The trade-offs are exactly what makes a real long-term assessment of buying practices vital: particularly for various uses within an an organization (such as Mobile, which is a ball that MS dropped). As Horace discussed, technology is moving too fast for the decision processes now/still in place.

          Yes, I grant that the enterprise came to rely on hand-holding and all-powerful IT departments. But Apple moving on is not a bad thing; and those start ups and small businesses that can think outside the box and make effective decisions at a user level are able to compete with big incumbents in almost any industry.

          1. “How about freedom to get on with the job at hand in an effective way?”.
            I’m open to demonstration of how iOS +Apple devices are more effective than alternatives. I’ve been using a pen and multitasking for 3 years on my Note for example, so maybe Apple is at last getting closer, but ahead ? I’ll need to see the meat.

          2. “I’m open to demonstration of how iOS +Apple devices are more effective than alternatives.”

            No, you’re not. Plenty of commentators on these forums where you are active have provided plenty of meaty examples. But carry on professing to believe that Apple sells hundreds of millions of iOS devices to people that just want to look good — it’s highly entertaining.

          3. Actually, nobody has. I’ve been requesting example of stuff you can do on an iPhone you can’t on Android, and I’m still stuck with the “music creation” I had 3 yrs ago, and I think that one has weakened.
            Even more importantly, my yearly holiday in iLand gives me overwhelming anecdote than actual users are not only not doing non-Androidable things (I’ll let you unwrap that double/triple negative ^^), they’re not doing a lot of things their iPhones could do, and on top of that they’re suffering through Apple’s inferior stuff (Maps !) when they could get better service (Nokia, gMaps).
            As for selling millions of things to people that just want to look good, there’s billions-dollar luxury industry to prove that, and it IS hundred of millions. Unless Louis Vuitton bags are superior bags and nobody told me, again ? That and the overabundant evidence that perceptions utterly annihilate judgment (labels -not the wine in the bottles- win competitions, making basic foodstuff looks fancy makes it taste batter, audiophiles swear they hear their $1,000 cables… ). Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

  2. Enterprise likes products that are low priced. Apple makes expensive products. Corporate IT departments are built on the Windows platform. Dismantling that infrastructure can be very expensive. Ultimately what matters is cost. It is like car rental companies adopting the BMWs 100% in place of Hyundais. Just because people like luxury cars, it doesn’t mean it can become the norm.

    iOS may cut inroads into the enterprise sector. But Apple does not have the OS penetration that Windows has into the IT infrastructure. Apple products are definitely great. I do not agree with the prediction that millennials will get to embrace iOS one hundred percent in the corporate world. BYOD might be the norm for a long time,

    1. “Apple does not have the OS penetration that Windows has into the IT infrastructure.”

      You’re talking about the present. Tim is talking about the future.

    2. “Enterprise likes products that are low priced”

      Enterprises think in terms of life cycle costs and total cost of ownership, of which upfront hardware costs are often a small part. If training and support costs are less with iOS devices, the additional hardware costs will not be a barrier.

    3. You’re spot on that enterprise wants to save costs, and ironically even though the initial cost of entry to buy iPads may seem high, it’s the back-end costs that are significantly mitigated.

      Enterprise is moving to the cloud, both public and private. This reduces the Windows footprint in enterprise data centers. And most cloud vendors have or are developing apps for their cloud offerings. Interim solutions work well with a browser UI. These moves make enterprise platform agnostic, reducing the dependency on Windows.

      Windows desktop builds in enterprise are expensive. Costs include MS Office suites, which are a few hundred dollars, centralized anti-virus which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, app provisioning systems, and any additional software the enterprise requires. The cost of testing, provisioning, and maintaining an enterprise PC image is also tangible. A new or upgraded PC may take 3-5 hours to image and provision, which affects periodic hardware and OS upgrade cycles.

      All of those Windows maintenance and software costs are significantly reduced with a mobile platform. Enterprise has more control over the operating system at a lower cost, and OS upgrades can be managed by the user instead of a team of techs. The support staff for mobile platforms is about 1/3 the size for desktops.

      So if costs are the #1 driver in enterprise, which they are, mobile platform adoption will accelerate more quickly in the future. And right now, Apple has an incredible lead over any other mobile platform in the enterprise space mostly because of their “walled garden” approach. It’s already enterprise-friendly and very accommodating to BYOD.

      1. Thanks for the very informed comment. You mention that Apple has a great lead over any other mobile platform. I assume that by “other” you are including both Android and Windows RT.

        With iOS having such a lead right now, I’m interested next in which platform you think might emerge as the No.2 mobile platform for enterprises. I would appreciate it if you could give us some perspective.

        1. When it comes to corporate, my bets are on MS & Apple. I don’t want to underestimate Android but I I think MS (definitely) and Apple (more recently) understand corporate better than Google.

          1. I agree, but I haven’t really seen any positive signals yet. I’m waiting to see some, and I’m expecting the first signs to come from DELL/HP or other companies that compete with IBM for corporate customers.

        2. I’m curious if your 2-platform prediction envisions a bifurcation into high end (Large corporations) and low end (Small enterprises down to mom-and-pop operations) segments or just a straight split across the board? I don’t know if any mega corporation right now (other than Google and its colonies) would be willing to take on Android given its security model.

        3. Windows 10 and the Surface line brings a lot to the table that “legacy” Windows shops will find attractive. Because Surface can run a complete Windows OS installation, it can be joined to a domain and managed like any other PC. So it will serve well as a transitional platform for those shops that are still heavily invested in Windows from a support and technology perspective. However, it’s a temporary fix.

          Unless Microsoft gets very serious about supporting phone and tablet form functions with something other than a reduced-feature Windows installation, they will continue to lose ground.

          The unit cost of a PC is only one aspect of the technology cost of a platform. As I pointed out before, the support costs is very tangible and very expensive. Most larger IT shops are outsourcing their help desk and level 1-2 support. It’s happening all around us as enterprise managed services providers continue to flourish and reduce support costs. With these reduced costs enterprise customers are also empowering users to become self-servicing. With a simpler platform, you spend less support cycles on level 1 support. With Managed Services, you can reduce the monthly OpEx costs as call volume goes down. This is where the significant savings comes from.

          Companies can accept an increase in CapEx to reduce long-term recurring OpEx, which are usually and largely costs that are challenging to manage. Think about the savings of not having to buy into Microsoft Software Assurance and the recurring software maintenance costs every year. For a company with 3,000 users this can be as much as $1.4M-$2M annually. These costs go away when you switch to another platform that does not have the same licensing model.

          Regarding Android; someone needs to hijack that OS from Google and create a secure corporate build. The base Android OS is “good enough” but Google has begun to create closed-source binaries for more advanced features in the OS. This Android fork would unfortunately start to go the route of Blackberry, but it could be made more secure and manageable from a corporate perspective. But that would take significant cash resources to develop, and there’s no one in the industry who is willing to take that kind of risk.

          So for now the market is Apple’s unless someone can come in and disrupt Apple’s iOS platform with another enterprise-friendly OS. And that is as unlikely as someone coming in during the 1990s to disrupt Microsoft from the desktop OS in enterprise.

      2. Thanks for a very thorough response. However, this is on the assumption that a company like Microsoft is going to remain stagnant during all this. Enterprise is Microsoft’s bread and butter. If that gets threatened, Microsoft will come at it with everything it has got. And this is good for the end users. Apple products have always been pricey. That can become the Achilles heel. Apple tries to give the BMW experience to everything and that can cost dearly. I dread seeing one monopoly being replaced by another.

        1. Microsoft costs too much. That will be their downfall. There are more compelling cloud and alternate-platform providers that can reduce annual OpEx costs. Reducing OpEx will force Microsoft to either change their licensing model (unlikely) or force their customers to move to competing platforms with a reduced OpEx impact on their budgets.

  3. You assume young people predominantly use iOS over Android. I don’t necessarily doubt this, but do yo have any numbers to back this up?

    1. We do. We segment the exact details our for clients of our primary research service at Creative Strategies. This reality skews more true in China and US, both markets where Apple’s installed base is significant.

        1. Think of it this way: Though they doth protest to much, China and the Chinese mostly want to be like the US. That’s why their millionaires are sending their kids here in droves to study, get a job, and acquire permanent residency.

  4. “…Apple’s continuum strategy…”

    You mean Apple’s “continuity” strategy. Kudos to Microsoft for intentionally sowing marketplace confusion. Continuum is a Windows feature.

    1. I think continuum is appropriate. The text reads as going between a Mac and an iPad Pro without skipping a beat. Moving from one thing to another; a regular progression, much like mathematics. The Mac being the old and the iPad the new.

      The article also mentions the iPad Pro and future iOS products being the tools of the future generation using the word continuum to help clarify the argument.

      I believe continuity would be better said if Apple were marching forward with Mac OS to serve the future. I think Microsoft is on the path of continuity; one OS.

      That’s how I read the use of continuum in the article.

  5. “Perhaps a clamshell with touch using iOS is not far around the corner.”

    Indeed, it’s called “iPad Pro with keyboard cover.” 🙂

    Is there something else you’re thinking of? If so, how would it be different, or different *enough* for Apple to bother with, when they’re already doing the iPad Pro with its keyboard cover? (i.e. the same thing as an iPad Pro but with the keyboard permanently attached is not something Apple is going to consider worthwhile.)

    1. Am I the only one not a fan of smudging my screen, and actually preferring mice or (good) trackpads/trackpoints to touch, even disregarding smudges ?
      Plus strangely, a weight and size-obsessed friend of mine keeps remarking ultrabooks are smaller and lighter than tablets+keyboard.

      Plus why stop at 13″ ? There are legitimate uses for 15″ and 17″ screens, in laptop form they would be a lot sturdier.

      Above all, I think it’s worth looking at the problem from the other side: is there any reason why a MacBook Air shouldn’t be running iOS ? At this point, I think there even are more apps for iOS than for MacOS ? And switching to Axx would save a bunch of dollars and watts ?
      And once you’ve crossed the MBA Rubicon, why stop there ?

      1. “Am I the only one not a fan of smudging my screen, and actually preferring mice or (good) trackpads/trackpoints to touch, even disregarding smudges ?”

        That sounds about right for someone your age and with your personal experience. My teenagers have screen protectors, don’t have issues with smudges, and do not prefer a mouse or trackpad. But they’re much younger and don’t have the same legacy experience that you do.

        Once I got used to my iPad in a keyboard case I came to love the experience of touching the screen. Now my mouse/trackpad feel clunky and old-fashioned. But obviously what is true for me or my kids is not true for you. You prefer older inputs, the ones you are used to, which is fine.

  6. I very much agree with the general idea that iOS (and friends) will eventually be the most used corporate OS. In fact, my position is that iOS is what Apple envisions as the next generation OS, and they have designed it to carry us for the next 20-30 years, with particular focus on some aspects that corporate IT departments value (security, safety). It was never a hack in the way for example, Palm OS was. Therefore, unless something as disastrous as the QWERTY keyboard happens, we should eventually move to mobile OSes.

    There remains two questions in my opinion. When will this happen and what the market landscape would look like when this happens.

    Regarding when this will happen, we have to remind ourselves that despite the renewed excitement over iOS, iPad sales are still falling. I would totally respect any analyst who had the wisdom and the guts to present a good (informed) estimate of when sales should start to rise again.

    Regarding landscape, who will be the major OS vendors when this happens. As like many other commenters, I do not envision Apple dominating the market in market share. Just like Android emerged in the smartphones space to fill in the markets that Apple was not initially focused on serving, Apple (even with the help of IBM) will not be able to serve the whole market at once. Other platforms will emerge to fill in the openings. Will it be Android or will it be Windows RT (the mobile version)? Android will approach it from its strength in smartphones, but no foothold in PCs or the workplace. Windows will approach it from PCs and an already strong position in the workplace, but virtually no presence on smartphones. We need to look at this from many angles, but I don’t think that a single comment is where I should be discussing them. Maybe some other time.

    In particular, I would be very interested in what companies like DELL, HP are doing. These companies are entrenched in corporate IT but have not yet presented (in my knowledge) their mobile strategy (or in my view, the next generation strategy). Will they work with Google to help bring Android into the workplace, or would they rather team up with their old buddy, Microsoft? Just as Apple decided that they needed to collaborate with IBM, I’m sure that the alternative platforms will too have to work together with reestablished players in corporate IT.

    In my opinion, the first battle that the next generation corporate OSes have to win, is the battle for corporate vendors.

    1. “In my opinion, the first battle that the next generation corporate OSes have to win, is the battle for corporate vendors.”

      What about education? You know, getting them hooked while they’re young?

      “In fact, my position is that iOS is what Apple envisions as the next generation OS, and they have designed it to carry us for the next 20-30 years,…”

      If true, what happens to OSX? Does it eventually whither away or become a really niche OS for those that demand more workstation-type tasks?

      1. I think the education battle is one that Apple fought and won to a certain extent, once upon a time. It didn’t translate into corporate sales as far as I know.

        As for OS X’s future. One thing is certain. If it becomes a really niche OS, then Apple will no longer support it. We’ll still have Linux though, so tinkerers won’t have to dispair.

    2. Tablets are not being overwhelmingly successful, and on top of that I’m thinking many of tablets’ key features do not map to corp use cases:
      – price for premium tablets (especially iPads) is higher than for laptops or desktops (except workstation-class hardware, but that’s a whole other game),
      – mobility is often not a factor,
      – ease of use is debatable (many use cases unfold better with a large screen, multiple windows, keyboard and mouse, standard file access/format…),
      – sexiness is mostly not a factor.

      Plus there’s a transition issue: even if all vaguely eligible PCs were replaced by iPads tonight, they mostly couldn’t run *all* the required software. I’ve been remoting 2 ways between my PC and my Galaxy Note, it’s really a kludge.

      I’m personnally dying to consolidate tech gizmos. The only possibility right now is a Surface, and it would cost (2k€ for 8GB+keyboard+dock+case) more than 1 tablet (300€) + 1 laptop (500€) + 1 desktop (1.2k€ left, mine cost less from scratch, I’m spending probably 150€/yr on average upgrading parts piecemeal), and be distinctly inferior in each role, starting with the fact that I’d only get 1 screen, 1 CPU and 1 HD instead of 3 of each (counting my tablet’s 128GB SD as an HD): less portable than my tablet, less apt at gaming than my desktop, less storage than my 2TB laptop… Granted, that’s my own personnal situation, but I’m sure variants of this are playing out most everywhere. Technoobs (including university-level students) around me haven’t managed to decommision their PCs either. I’m guessing corps are running into the same limitations.

      Edit: clarifications.

      1. Totally agree that current tablets cannot replace PCs yet.

        I’m looking at the core OS. The security model, sandboxing, control over background tasks, app management and update distribution, etc. When you think about how client level security breaches work and why PC performance tends to deteriorate over time, it’s clear that mobile OSes provide fundamental solutions.

        While PC operating systems are engaging in a never ending cat-and-mouse game against malware, mobile OSes are steadily improving their capabilities. Multiple screens for example, could come to mobile OSes quite soon. At some point in the near future, I expect mobile OSes will race past what PCs can do.

        When that happens, I’m sure that even corporate IT will see the light.

        1. I’m not sure legacy desktop OS’s problems run that deep, things are the way they are mostly for market-driven reasons:

          – the security model is the same. Especially true for iOS vs MacOS, but, really true for all OSes, basically Unix-like ACL. Note that this week proved that Apple’s single point of failure, single layer of control setup is imperfect, but that’s not a technical decision, iOS could support antimalware, technically, if Appel started to trust 3rd parties to do the job they’re themselves not doing perfectly.

          – sandboxing is a user choice: modern apps are sandboxed on all OSes, but legacy apps are… less sandbox-able since they’re not inherently sandboxed, the OS tries to insulate them, with limited success. Users can have a fully sandboxed legacy OS if they stop using legacy apps, and that touches the core of the problem: they don’t want to / can’t.

          – control over background tasks is an iffy issue: it only matters if you’re starved for some resource (cycles, battery, data), which, really, only Mobile can be. In most cases it’s actually better for background processes to assert themselves, that way your dropbox does get synched before you unplug (is the “I experienced that issue” vibe coming through ? :-p)

          – app management and update distribution is again mostly user choice: you can get that on legacy OSes, by only using Store apps. Again, that users are not doing so is a hint of the issues: legacy apps are still needed, or updates need validation and controlled distribution.

          I’m failing to find corroboration, but 80+% of Windows’ security issues come from Flash, Java plug-in (different from Java runtime, both can be un-linked you can have Java on your PC but not in your browser), or PEBKAC (problem exists between keyboard and chair, solved by un-admining users and/or blocking app downloads/installs).
          And for the remaining 20% it’s bugs and exploits, of which mobile OSes have their fair share too.

          1. You’re basically outlining all the things that a system administrator of desktop PCs have to be aware of, which mobile OS users never need to think about.

          2. Indeed, and entreprise admins have 1-click tools to install the OS config and apps of their choice, say a mobile-like “store-only, no user admin/apps/installs, no flash, no java plug-in”. Being *aware* of it is not the issue, it’s *making it work* that is, both because it doesn’t meet the needs, and it’s still a bit hole-y.

          3. I don’t claim to be a security expert at all, and hence I’m only really qualified to point out some broad trends. I don’t want to go too deep into technical issues, because I’m bound to make some huge mistakes. Instead of trying to carefully refute your statements, let me note some points that I observe.

            Regarding the Apple malware issue, as I have said elsewhere, the hackers attacked the Mac-side and not the iOS-side. The security systems on the Mac-side worked as designed (the Mac did detect that the malicious version of Xcode was suspicious), and the developers using the compromised version of Xcode were warned. However, because of the need to allow “freedom”, the developers were allowed to ignore the warning, which they did. Clearly, this would not have happened if Xcode ran on iOS. The definite trend here is that the desktop OS is the weakest link in terms of security.

            The issue of legacy apps and sandboxing can be addressed by virtual machines. I’m no expert on how good they are, but these could provide a temporary solution as IT departments are gradually weaned off legacy solutions. To my knowledge, this is a path that Microsoft is investing in.

            Regarding background tasks, iOS does enable them, but in an intelligent way. Basically, the OS knows what task you are attempting to accomplish, and allocates resources accordingly. You will not, for example, find yourself running spyware or a key-logger in the background. Nor will you find a runaway process clogging up the CPU. I’m pretty sure that over time, the issues of legacy applications that require legacy desktop OSes will disappear. I’m also sure that there will be many vendors that will support a gradual transition.

            At the same time, the issues surrounding security show no sign of decreasing in the desktop PC space. Attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. Although I do not have concrete references, judging from the attacks that Japanese government agencies and companies (including Sony) are suffering from recently, Flash and Java plugins are not the main culprits anymore. Instead, hackers planted spyware through sophisticated phishing/social routes, which grabbed information through background processes, and sent them back to the hackers. Given this trend, it is totally remarkable that iOS hasn’t been hit harder with security issues, and I take this as testament to the improved security model that the new mobile OSes employ.

            So as far as I see it, the broad trend here is that IT security is far from winning the war against malware, but if they used iOS or similarly secure systems, they would at least win on the client side. As iOS and other mobile OSes get more powerful, the only remaining reason to not switch will be legacy apps. However, there are also good improvements in running legacy apps inside mobile devices. Therefore, from my perspective, it looks like the balance will continue to tip towards iOS, etc. being used inside corporations.

          4. Re the Apple issue:
            – Apple chose to make apps their responsibility, security their responsibility… and bar 3rd parties. so guess what, it doesn’t matter where they had a hole, it’s their hole and their responsibility.
            – Apple chose to make iOS vertically integrated and cloudy. They made a security issue with xCode, with their shop, with their cloud,… an iPhone security issue. No “our doors are safe: they went through the roof” fudging when your house gets broken in.
            Because iOS is a walled garden with no 3rd-party security, *any* point of ingress is a highway into all devices. A system is only as safe as its weakest point, and iOS is a vertically-integrated monoculture. No KNOX nor antivirus, their choice. Own it.
            Also, I never heard that level of hair-splitting about Android malware that doesn’t apply to playstore-only, unrooted phones… Weird, dat selective pickiness. Or not.

            Re Malware incidence on legacy PCs: I actually can’t find stats on malware incidence on PCs let alone on reasonably up-to-date PCs (read: not XP, Windows Update on, at least MS’s free Windows Defender). Anecdotal evidence around me says it’s way down.

          5. As I said I’m no security expert but I’ll give you
            the information that I’ve got. In typical cat-and-mouse game fashion, hackers have adopted to the security policies and software that have improved over the years. According to reports from Information Technology Promotion Agency, Japan, computer virus incidents declined 24% YoY but malware detection incidents increased 63.1%.


            I have also read that recent Advanced Persistent Threat attacks research the anti-malware defences that a company employs, and customises their software so that it will go undetected. These are the attacks that seem to be making the rounds in Japan these days, with the attack on the Japan Pension Service which resulted in more than a million personal information records being leaked being the most prominent. It has been reported that many more targets have already been compromised, but not made public yet. Targeted attacks on the “big fish” do seem to be on the rise.



            It seems that attacks on small-fish may have declined while those on the big-fish have increased. I may be wrong, but this is how I see it.

            Also, if you think it’s an Apple vs. Android thing or an open vs. closed thing, you’re not understanding my point. Although I do think that iOS has the lead here, I’m expecting Android and Windows Runtime to follow with a similar or even better security model.

    3. iOS SAP servers, database servers, web servers, domain services, cloud servers..

      Yeah right.

      There’s a reason why client/server began to replace mainframe, leading to Windows dominance. iOS isn’t the same. It’s a lightweight end user client, and that’s all. It can dominate a portion of mobile user clients, and there it will halt.

      Not to mention it restricts enterprises to one hardware option, dictated by one company. That’s always real popular with Enterprise.

  7. I repeated hear the phrase it is all about the apps. I don’t see any movement to ios/mac os for enterprise class applications. Devices in the enterprise are not the only piece of the puzzle. That being said, there is a place for Apple in the enterprise,

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