While Apple may have its work cut out trying to replace the Windows PC in the general-purpose computing sphere, the company continues to dominate its traditional graphics and digital media markets, and may yet win over the server market with its Xserve, states a Computerworld report.

The report notes that, despite its position in 10th place on IDC's market-share list in 2004, Apple is a dominant player in certain vertical markets. In fact, according to research from TrendWatch, 83 per cent of graphic designers, 77 per cent of corporate design departments and 65 per cent of advertising agencies rely on Macintosh computers.

Computerworld adds: "With the growing popularity of its low-cost Xserve Unix servers, Apple has an opportunity to compete head-to-head with industry leaders like Dell inside the data centre for general-purpose applications such as e-mail and Web serving."

The article focuses on a number benefits associated with the Xserve including the lower cost when compared to the alternative, ease of use, security, and the Unix core of Mac OS X.

Speaking to the Oracle

Of particular interest is the report's suggestion that it's doubtful that Oracle would have decided to port its Oracle 10g database to the Mac if the platform didn't have a Unix core.

Oracle director of worldwide alliances and channels Sanjay Sadhu said: "We see value in OS X. It's a great new enhancement." He told Computerworld that Oracle hopes to exploit Apple's strong position in the sciences and in creative and education markets, adding that Oracle has installed Xserves in its data centre to run its Oracle Collaboration Suite for email, voice mail and calendaring for 4,000 employees.

Genentech's Mark Jeffries told Computerworld: "The Mac's place in the market today is the result in large measure to Windows-centric IT shops that have always been trying to find some reason to get rid of Macs." But, he adds that things have now changed and he doesn't believe that the Mac is destined to remain locked in a few vertical segments.

For Jeffries the security offered by the Mac is a big selling point. "The Mac is secure, if not bulletproof. Apple designed it to be secure by default. Windows was designed for features, not security," he adds.