Marketcircle CEO Alykhan Jetha is warning that Apple's innovative nature could be utterly restricted if it tries too hard to boost its fortunes in enterprise computing.

Jetha's stark warning emerges as media and enterprise buyers mull over the advantages of Mac OS X 10.5 in comparison to Microsoft systems. He urges Apple to stick to its roots in the small business and consumer markets, leaving the enterprise market to the: "PC society that has stalled out on innovation".

"If Apple has to worry about keeping slow-moving enterprises happy, it cannot innovate and thus it cannot have success," Jetha writes. "Just look at how much effort and work Microsoft has to put into maintaining all kinds of backwards compatibility. It's a ball and chain that will render Apple as 'just another tech company' should it decide to chase the enterprise market."

The rewards of innovation within the consumer and small business markets remain huge, he points out, citing US Small Business Administration Statistics which show that small businesses account for half of US non-farm real gross domestic product, and have generated 60 to 80 per cent of new employment opportunities across the last decade.

And it's not just in the US. In the UK, small businesses employ more than 58 per cent of the private sector workforce, according to the Federation of Small Businesses. Jetha says that much like Apple, the job of small business "is to run circles around the large enterprises and push innovation - and the economy - forward."

"The irony in all of this," Jetha writes, "is that Apple is actually getting into the enterprise. This trend is driven by the users who first experience Apple's ease of use via an iPod or increasingly using an iPhone, who then take a very small risk and buy a Mac."

"It used to be that employees in the lower rungs of the food chain would try to bring Macs into various businesses - big and small. They would inevitably get shot down by IT staff or their bosses. We know this because Daylite was often an accomplice in this kind of manoeuvre. Now the tables are turned, it is the high level execs that are experiencing Apple's ease of use and those execs are demanding Macs (and thankfully, Mac business software)."

But the needs of major enterprises demand a level of solidity that can stifle progress, he warns, noting: "You can't innovate when you cater for dinosaurs."