While some of us may remember the XServe and basically say “didn’t Apple already go enterprise? And fail?” this rumor is different. Basically folks are saying that thanks to the iPhone SDK, ActiveSync/Exchange support, and sheer force of will on Steve’s part Apple will become a fully-fledged enterprise player, offering synced iPhones and Mac hardware to hungry, hungry cubicle dwellers.
The enterprise market, like the PC market, is commoditized. Sure, you get the outliers but on the whole the PC on your desk at work probably cost $200 and a bag of Cheetos. This price probably doesn’t sit well with Apple, who knows that making a good, expensive product is better than making a lot of crappy products (Coby vs. Sony, for example). Coby has probably a single digit profit margin while Sony and Apple have perhaps in the low 20s on some things. Sure, there’s R&D and Sir Howard Stringer’s fleet personal ladyboy masseuses to pay for, but generally the big money is in making products the Apple way, especially for a company the size of Apple.
I could see a sub-$500 Mac Mini sitting on desks but not at huge enterprise customers. Maybe at a mid-sized business? Maybe at a chain of retail shops? But I doubt Exxon or Citibank is in line for some sexy hardware. If they could pay $45 for each desk, they definitely would.