Word is out that Cisco is introducing the Cisco Unified Personal Communicator (CUPC) client with native support for the Apple MacIntosh and Leopard. According to a blog post by M. Michael Acosta, manager of Cisco engineering, the latest version of CUPC is a fully native Mac application with a user-interface developed specifically for the Mac.
Why am I not surprised? For one thing, Chris Thompson, Senior Director, Solutions Marketing for Cisco’s UC group, has been carrying around his Mac at every conference, noting how Cisco doesn’t care what system or desktop you use – it’s all about the network. Once I saw Chris, who is often the spokesman for Cisco UC, with his Mac, and learned that Macs are an orderable laptop option for Cisco employees, I knew that Cisco would come out with a UC client that would support the Mac. Chris told me that there are about 7000 people at Cisco on Macs and that Cisco recognizes that people are increasingly working in environments that are “not standard,” which is why Cisco is embracing an inclusive strategy to make the UC experience portable across devices, operating systems, network topologies and business applications.
Also, as I noted in a previous column (http://www.ucstrategies.com/unified-communications-strategies-views/cisco-sets-its-sights-on-collaboration.aspx), Cordell Ratzlaff, formerly of Apple, has been leading a new Cisco team focused on providing a consistent user experience across devices. As Director, User-Centered Design, Ratzlaff and his group are working to redesign all of Cisco’s UC products to have a common look and feel. Is it a coincidence that Ratzlaff used to work at Apple? I think not.
Avaya already made the move to welcome Apple into the enterprise by supporting the Apple iPhone with its Avaya one-X Mobile, “offering direct access to sophisticated features found on your Avaya office phone.” Other enterprise vendors will follow suit by supporting both the Apple iPhone and Macintosh computing system. While Apple currently has a miniscule share of the enterprise market, this could change in the near future. We’ve seen consumers driving evolution in the enterprise – bringing in social networking, IM, and other consumer-related offerings. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of these consumers do the same for Apple products, which are clearly more popular in schools and homes than in the enterprise. Remember, a large portion of college students use Macs, not PCs, and as they enter the workforce, they may bring their Macs with them.
While Apple will never take over Microsoft in the enterprise, I would expect to see more and more individuals, followed by departments within the enterprise, slowly move toward worker-driven options such as Apple products, including the Mac platform and the iPhone. This means that enterprise UC vendors need to take a look at how Apple fits into their integration and alliance strategies. And for those of you competing head on with Microsoft, remember the saying: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Nuff said.