Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) is the company’s half-hearted attempt to deliver some form of enterprise licensing program for the iOS App Store. The program does make it marginally easier for businesses to bulk purchase and deploy apps to iPhones and iPads than telling employees to buy apps and then reimbursing them, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. As we reported earlier this summer, many businesses and school still feel Apple doesn’t meet their app purchase and deployment needs.
Mobile app management (MAM) vendor App 47 summed up some of the key issues and how it can help companies deal with them as part of the company’s summer lecture series on app management.
There are several key points that App 47 makes.
- Relying on iTunes as a way to distribute apps is simply to much trouble.
- Asking employees to purchase apps is a big time killer – getting a $3 app rolled out costs an estimated $12 in lost productivity with this method.
- VPP improves purchasing by letting business and schools purchase apps in bulk.
- Apple delivers VPP purchases as spreadsheet of iTunes/App Store redemption codes, each of which is unique and can only be used once.
- Apple doesn’t offer a simple solution of its own for rolling the individual codes out to individual users.
- Apple also doesn’t offer a simple way to ensure users actually redeem the codes and install the apps.
As you might expect, App 47 points out that it has created a more streamlined way of managing redemption codes. Like other dedicated MAM tools as well as some device management tools that offer app management features (including Mountain Lion Server’s Profile Manager and Apple Configurator), App 47 can import the spreadsheet of codes and deliver them to iOS devices as a push notification. From that notification, users can install the app(s) and App 47’s central management console can verify if employees have redeemed and installed apps.
App 47 even put all this data into a nice infographic (PDF link).
App 47 also mentions two important facts. Many IT leaders and staffers don’t even know Apple offers any form of volume purchasing and some choose not to use the VPP because once codes are redeemed by a user they cannot be reclaimed is that user leaves the company. App 47 notes that for many companies using the VPP is still a better choice for inexpensive apps simply because of convenience and that companies should calculate at what price point app costs outweigh that convenience.
All of this illustrates that Apple needs to overhaul iOS app purchasing. While App 47 and other MAM vendors can ease the challenges of Apple’s VPP, they simply can’t take on issues like reclaiming VPP redemption codes – though it’s worth noting Apple Configurator can reclaim codes in certain circumstances.