Thanks to changes in Apple's Volume Purchase Program (VPP), businesses can centralize paid app administration. After enrolling in Apple's volume licensing program, organizations can buy and distribute apps, including custom apps, in volume throughout their enterprise environments.
Before an enterprise can purchase and deploy custom apps using an Apple VPP account, two dependencies must be met. First, the enterprise must possess a VPP account (which itself requires the organization possess its own Dun and Bradstreet number, known as a D-U-N-S). Second, the third-party developer that produced the custom business application must enroll in the iOS Developer program.
Some noteworthy custom app requirements exist, too. They should not be overlooked.
Each custom business app, as well as each update, must successfully complete the same app review guidelines for App Store apps as apply to other programs sold by Apple. To ensure applications meet Apple guidelines, Apple technicians will require log in information to test custom B2B apps, too, so organizations that include proprietary or sensitive information within their app may need to build test accounts and sample data sets free of the proprietary or sensitive data.
Apple states any business in the US can participate in the VPP. Enrollment, including basic business information, a D-U-N-S number, and a corporate credit card or PCard are all that are required to join.
Purchasing custom B2B apps
Apple documents the actual steps that enterprise organizations should follow to get B2B apps published and integrated within VPP for distribution. The process consists of four steps:
- Connect with your developer. Apple advocates enterprise organizations solicit the services of a third-party developer to build the required app and register with the iOS Developer Program. Once the developer is enrolled, and the application is approved and priced ($9.99 is the published minimum price for business apps), the developer need only list the enterprise as an authorized purchaser.
- Provide the developer an email address. Next, the organization needs to pass the developer the enterprise organization's email address mated to the company's VPP account. The developer requires that email address in order to identify the organization as an authorized purchaser.
- Purchase the custom app. The enterprise may then log in to the VPP, locate the custom B2B app, and complete the purchase.
- Distribute the app. Finally, the enterprise can then redeem redemption codes received in a spreadsheet following order placement. The redemption URLs can be distributed to end users to enable installation of the custom B2B app.
Organizations seeking to simplify enterprise management of business and custom apps can get started by enrolling in the VPP for Business. Apple maintains a portal just for that purpose.
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.