As part of an increased effort to attract corporate customers, Apple Computer Inc. has introduced its first software package that allows users of large networks of its Macintosh personal computers to communicate easily with IBM mainframes and minicomputers.
Analysts said the Apple software was an improvement over the cumbersome communications software now available from third-party suppliers.
"Apple is taking ownership of the problem," said John C. McCarthy, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.
Last fall, Apple embarked on an ambitious plan to increase its share of the personal computer market from about 11 percent to 20 percent, primarily through increasing volume by cutting prices.
But Apple is also trying to make greater inroads into the business market, which accounts for as much as half of all personal computer sales. Apple now has about 8 percent of the corporate market, Mr. McCarthy estimates.
Corporations tend to buy more powerful systems, which provide higher profit margins to computer makers, an important consideration for Apple, whose margins have suffered from the aggressive price cuts.
Ed Forman, marketing manager of large business for Apple, said the company was working to overcome several myths about its personal computers, including the perception that there is not enough business software available for Apple personal computers.
A growing number of business programs, including the popular 1-2-3 spreadsheet from Lotus Development Corp., will soon be available for the Macintosh.
Apple must also dispel the notion that Macintosh "is a system for individuals" instead of entire corporations, Mr. Forman said.
Corporations have also worried about being able to connect their large mainframes to Apple's personal computers. Last week's introduction of the new communications software, called the SNA.ps family of products, is another step in convincing corporate customers that Macintoshes can be easily connected to mainframe computers made by IBM, Mr. Forman and analysts said.
But improving networking is only part of the problem.
Mr. McCarthy said that to be successful in the corporate market, Apple must establish a strong corporate sales staff and convince third-party retailers to put together packages of Apple equipment and custom-designed software for different businesses. Mr. Forman said Apple was reorganizing its sales force to be more responsive to corporations.