Traditionally Apple-averse companies are stocking up on iPads, putting them on wind turbines and in cockpits, and the iPhone has overtaken the BlackBerry as the smartphone of choice for corporate types. But in most corporate offices, it's still Windows-running Dells and HPs that dominate the landscape.
Perhaps not for long, if MokaFive has any say in the matter. The Redwood City startup is greasing Apple's entry into the desktop market for the enterprise. The company is wooing corporations with a smart mobile desktop that can run PC-friendly company programs within a virtual desktop on any OS, including any from Apple.
"What we do is make Windows 7 an app on the Mac," Dale Fuller, president and CEO of MokaFive, tells Fast Company. "It sits on the toolbars, they double click, boom." Adds Purnima Padmanabhan, MokaFive VP of products and marketing: "We can take your Windows desktop, virtualize it, put a bubble wrap around it, and drop it on a Mac."
That's an elegantly simplified description for some serious tech that has its roots in computer scientist Monica Lam's Stanford lab. The six-year-old MokaFive recently signed on a list of high-profile clients, and is expecting the iPad and iPhone-driven interest in Apple to spill over into demand for Apple computers. They want their software to play the tech liaison during this planned transition.
MokaFive's approach is twofold: They've designed their desktop to be easy to use, while mollifying potential IT departments' concerns about security. This means contract workers can bring in their own machines and have access to the company IT in a locked-down environment, by downloading an app. It means people who want to work from home can port the office desktop onto their Mac or PC and pick up where they left off at work. The system also lets employees download and use their own apps on their computer—something most IT departments frown on—without risking the integrity of the larger office network.
The company comes by its easy of usability mandate honestly: Fuller worked on the PowerBooks at Apple, followed Steve Jobs to NeXT, and then returned to Apple for a second stint. User experience, in Dale Fuller's mind, is of supreme importance.
Wisely, MokaFive has backed up that freedom with security features built to soothe any concerned, PC-trained IT department. There the main contents of any employee's virtual desktop app can be controlled remotely. If a laptop was lost while on the go? The IT department could wipe the contents of the virtual desktop app and revoke access from afar. Finally, the fact that MokaFive offers this virtual desktop on a Mac and a PC means that now, a PC-leaning company could consider letting some employees use a Mac if they wanted to, without giving a PC-trained IT support staff the responsibility (and cost) to train themselves to fix things on a different OS.
The fact that they are minimizing costs incurred by companies, and also limiting the headaches of wannabe office Mac users could be MokaFive's double-sided ticket to success. An indication of that comes from the big clients MokaFive has scooped up. "We're also seeing a lot of growth through indirect sales," Padmanabhan says, of health care IT providers and educational IT providers who are buying and suppplying their software to schools and hospitals. MokaFive is targeting a special kind of client: knowledge-based enterprises, health care companies, and companies where there are lots of mobile workers stand to gain the most from MokaFive's products.
Electronic Arts, one of MokaFive's recent clients, is a good example of the sort of companies MokaFive is seducing. "Their employees are young—they're keyed into the latest technologies," Padmanabhan says. "They want to be productive on whatever device they want. It's about empowerment and flexibility."
In a Mac enterprise revolution slow to come, MokaFive has been smart about targeting not just the recent Mac convert, but anyone who wants to bring a non-work computer to the office. "When people think about Macs and the enterprise," Padmanabhan says, "I want them to think MokaFive."
[Image: Flickr user A river runs through]