Several argentinean newspapers (link in Spanish) have reported on a MacBook Air gifted by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner. This is apparently creating a large controversy as the product is perceived as a luxury item. As a result, the presidency will create a public official gift registry to avoid any suspicions of corruption. This is certainly a good initiative implemented in many countries rocked by similar scandals in the past. However, in general the controversy was created over much pricier gifts like the diamonds that African dictator Bokassa gave to French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing back in the 70′s.
What really surprises me is to see how Apple products have become a symbol of luxury recently. I am sure that everyone remembers for example the gold plated iPod that David Beckham received from his team mates. I have seen many CEOs of large enterprises be the single Mac users of their company. For example, I know that Ricardo Salinas Pliego, CEO of Grupo Salinas and one of the wealthiest men in Mexico uses a Mac. At Banorte, one of the large Mexican banks, and probably the fastest growing one, there are only two Mac users. However, those users have a lot of weight as they are the CEO and the Director of Marketing.
What does that mean for the future of the Mac in large companies? Well, it means that the IT staff has no option but to learn how to use those computers and support them. That opens a new market for Apple. It also means that it is becoming harder for IT departments to adopt solutions that exclude the Mac. This is not good news for Microsoft and it could help companies like IBM or Oracle that have developed collaboration solutions that are truly platform independent. Many open-source advocates have long criticized Apple for their proprietary approach to computing. It is time for them to recognize that Apple is helping their cause very strongly by forcing the adoption of open standards.