IT admins at businesses of all sizes have been forced to grapple with the consumerization revolution led by the Apple iPhone and iPad. Now, Apple is making it simpler for organizations to rely on iOS devices with bulk apps in a new volume purchasing program.
Apple hasn't been very aggressive in chasing business customers, but it has taken progressive steps since the launch of the original iPhone to make iOS devices more manageable, and more secure for use in a business environment. One thing that has still been lacking, though, is a system for acquiring apps in bulk the same way businesses are accustomed to for other technology investments.
According to a PDF Apple published to explain the program details, "Whether you're purchasing apps for iPhone, iPad, or both, the Volume Purchase Program offers a simple and efficient method to purchase iOS apps from the App Store in volume for distribution within your organization."
The Volume Purchase Program also simplifies app distribution and management to make it easier on IT admins. Redemption codes can be emailed to specific individuals, posted on an internal company site to be claimed as needed, or managed through a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) platform.
The Volume Purchase Program also fosters the ability to purchase custom apps written by third-party developers specifically for your company. The apps still have to go through the Apple App Store approval process and must meet Apple guidelines, but Apple has mechanisms in place to identify your company as an (or the) authorized purchase of the app.
To enroll, visit www.apple.com/business/vpp and provide the necessary information. You will need contact info for the business (phone and email), a valid business address, and a D-U-N-S number--a unique number assigned to businesses by Dun & Bradstreet to prove to Apple that you are a company and not just a big family or group of friends. If your business doesn't have a D-U-N-S, go to iupdate.dnb.com to get one.
If your company has more than a handful of iPhones or iPads in use, you should get registered for the App Store Volume Purchase Program for Business and take advantage of what it has to offer. What would be nice, though, is for Apple to take it a step farther and offer discounts. Buying the Garmin StreetPilot app for $34.95 may be reasonable for one person, but a company that buys 100, or 1,000 licenses for software generally expect to get some sort of break on the price. Apple should do the same for iOS if it wants the iPhone and iPad to succeed as business platforms.
[Author's Note: The article has been updated to correct confusion over discounts. The Apple App Store Volume Purchase Program provides a means of purchasing in bulk, and managing app distribution for business customers, but there are no volume discounts on the app pricing itself.]