Enterprise Development and Distribution Options

nosillok's picture

nosillok

Joined: Oct 12, 2016
Your rating: None (6 votes)

In the past, our company developed applications for clients who wanted to put on them in the App Store.

We just finished up our first enterprise application (a total of about devices will have the application). We need some help on the best way to get our enterprise application to a number number of clients. The client does not need the application to be loaded on the 40-some devices until Jan.1 so we have some time to look at all of our options. Up to this point we have been testing with the customers using HockeyApp (ever since Apple bought TestFlight, we hate it). It should also be noted that we are currently working on scaling this application so that we can start selling our product to other customers with similar needs. A few other notes to narrow down our criteria:

  • We would rather not have this product go through the Apple App Store
  • Originally, we thought the enterprise program would be perfect to sell this product, but we found out that Apple says we cannot build apps under our own enterprise program and sell them to clients
  • The VPP program looks like it has its advantages, but Apple takes 30% of our revenue?? AND the app needs to go through the review process upon submission and updates...no thanks
  • Is anyone just selling apps to customers and using HockeyApp or something similar for distribution?

Honestly, so far I really don't like any of the options I have been researching. Can anyone please give some advice on how we should be moving forward?

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wgordon's picture

wgordon

Joined: Sep 26, 2016
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Advice.

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Not that I've done this or been in the situation before, but my advice would be to make the app free in the app store - but have it work only with a valid license in its settings.

Your customers then purchase the license from you outside of the app store. You could even make the app accept configuration packages via an MDM which would allow your customers to deploy the app with the license key making it completely transparent to the user.

Granted, you'd still have the review period to get it into the App Store but then you avoid the whole 30% thing and still make it easy for your customers.

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swkim's picture

swkim

Joined: Jun 15, 2015

I've seen many businesses

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I've seen many businesses offers a free app in the App Store. They charge for cloud service or some type of login before the app can be used. I don't know how your app is setup, but that could be one way to get around the revenue share.

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taylor's picture

taylor

Joined: Jan 25, 2016
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VPP B2B

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Have you considered distributing through the VPP B2B store, keeping the app "free", and charging a fee out-of-band? This may work well if your app is account based and interacts with a server. You could then consider the app to be a free component of your service and charge for the service through a different means.

I know Apple generally won't allow apps like this in the public app store. There's been a lot of news about the Spotify app lately, though some apps slip through the cracks still. I believe the B2B store is much more lenient as Apple views it as a place for developers to sell something closer to an app that's built for just one or two clients.

Taylor
simplemdm.com
Intuitive, Powerful Apple Device Management

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TonyAndreoli's picture

TonyAndreoli

Joined: Sep 28, 2016

Look into Apple's B2B

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Look into Apple's B2B (Business to Business) program.

https://developer.apple.com/programs/volume/b2b/

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Elizabeth Hale's picture

Elizabeth Hale

Joined: Sep 21, 2016

two methods

Your rating: None (1 vote)

You could ask the user to open a webpage in safari browser with the following link in it.

href="itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=url_of_the_manifest_file"

The app is installed as soon as the user clicks the link.

Or you could use an MDM like Hexnode MDM for app distribution.

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Elizabeth Hale's picture

Elizabeth Hale

Joined: Sep 21, 2016

You could ask the user to

Your rating: None

You could ask the user to open a webpage in safari browser with the following link in it.

href="itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=url_of_the_manifest_file"

The app is installed as soon as the user clicks the link.

or you can use an MDM solution like Hexnode MDM for app distribution

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Elizabeth Hale's picture

Elizabeth Hale

Joined: Sep 21, 2016

two ways

Your rating: None

You could ask the user to open a webpage in safari browser with the following link in it.

href="itms-services://?action=download-manifest&url=url_of_the_manifest_file"

The app is installed as soon as the user clicks the link.

Or use an MDM solution for app distribution.

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TonyAndreoli's picture

TonyAndreoli

Joined: Sep 28, 2016

I posted this yesterday but

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I posted this yesterday but it's still not here:

Look into Apple's B2B (Business to Business) program.

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tfriedm's picture

tfriedm

Joined: Jul 15, 2013
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Enterprise Development and Distribution Options

Your rating: None (2 votes)

Good morning,

If you are trying to sell iOS application(Drunk that you built for multiple clients and provide updates to them, you do need to go through the Apple App store with or without the VPP program. As a customer that supports a large amount of iOS devices, I would be hesitant to purchase an App that is not part of the VPP program. It saves us a considerable amount of time and cost to maintain individual apps since the user's device does not need an associated Apple ID per device to download the app. Add the 30% into your costs.

Based on the description above, here's an option that I can suggest if you still don't want to use the App store. Sell your services to build custom in-house apps for Enterprise-Use only. You can maintain the app (or transfer it to the buyer and have them apply their own certs). Depending on the method you take, updates and the certificate renewals would still be required, but you would be able to provide the customers with Enterprise app(Drunk that can be distributed internally via Apple Configurator or an MDM tool. Send the .ipa file to the user and have them load and deploy internally to their managed devices. Updates will be distributed through the same process.

You maintain the license and build of the app without going through the approval process of the Apple App store. What you cannot do is sell the app(Drunk on the public market. Essentially you're contracting your App build services to specific clients for in-house app use only. Remember, you're solely responsible for the security risks that come along with maintaining and distributing an app that hasn't been approved by Apple.

Hope this helps.

Todd

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Jason Holloway's picture

Jason Holloway

Joined: Oct 8, 2016
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In-house app deployment

Your rating: None (1 vote)

Hello Nosillok,

The challenge you describe is common in B2B applications, and is often referred to as in-house app distribution (whether these apps are actually developed in-house, or externally by a third-party, such as yourselves). There are quite a few Apple documents and 3rd-party webpages discussing this in more detail if you search for this term.

From your comments, I will assume that you are against using Apple's App Store for B2C app delivery, or even Apple's Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for B2C and B2B app delivery. If I've misunderstood, my apologies.

The most common way to proceed (in a practical, scalable way) would be to treat it as a bespoke in-house app. This includes signing it by the enterprise itself under their own standard or enterprise developer account, according to the number of devices required. You can then distribute it (and any updates) through the customer's own Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Application Management (MAM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution.

Often larger enterprises will have their own MDM/EMM solution, so this should be a valid approach for them. Smaller companies may need to consider the cost implications of deploying such a solution and balance this against other benefits provided by the MDM solution (increased security, including control and visibility over the devices, for example, or the distribution and management of email and wifi profiles to the users).

I hope this provides you with a basis on which to proceed that delivers the best solution for both you and your customers.

Kind regards,

Jason

--
Jason Holloway
https://www.bridgeway.co.uk

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nosillok's picture

nosillok

Joined: Sep 26, 2016

--VPP Response

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Thanks for the response Taylor. What you described is what we are leaning towards. While doing some research, I found that Apple used to have a minimum price of $9.99 per app on the B2B store, but now the minimum price has dropped to $0. I'm guessing this is to account for the type of service/app. The fact that Apple dropped the minimum price to $0 tells me that they are OK with this type of distribution/business model.

Just a little more on how we plan on developing our business.. We are in the process of creating website where interested customers can login and customize our application to fit their business's needs. On the website there will be a 'template' application and once the customizations are submitted, they are read within our iOS application. Once they submit their customizations, we are sending the customer a number of test accounts via OUR OWN enterprise program (we believe this to be within Apple's terms, because we consider any testing to still be within our organization). The test applications will be accessed through a specific special key and sent to the customer via download url.

If things go well and the customer wishes to proceed, we will give them two options for purchasing our service:

1. Enterprise, through their own Enterprise Program: If our customer wants to put in a little extra time and $299/year, they will have the advantage of complete customization, without any worries of dealing with App Review. They will also have the advantage of giving our company the ability to make instant changes.

2. VPP B2B: I believe most customers will choose this option, especially if they are a somewhat larger organization and want to be able to manage their devices with a MDM solution.

I guess the main question at this point is whether Apple will approve this application through the B2B business store. Would you think Apple would need extra information to determine if the application is part of a larger service?

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taylor's picture

taylor

Joined: Jan 25, 2016
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Free B2B apps have been

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Free B2B apps have been around for a while now. I used them personally 2-3 years ago. Perhaps the $0 pricing option was obscured for some reason.

The companies that I see with your deployment scenario generally provide a binary for the customer, which they are then responsible for signing and distributing. I do not think the Enterprise program is the right option. At the end of the day, you're distributing binaries to customers, not internal employees. Each customer will need their own Enterprise program to be within policy guidelines.

So, that leaves you with either requiring your customers to each get their own Enterprise program or using the VPP B2B program. I'd go with the former if it's at all feasible.

Taylor
simplemdm.com
Intuitive, Powerful Apple Device Management

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bugfrisch's picture

bugfrisch

Joined: Feb 13, 2013
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app distribution

Your rating: None

I think what you try to achieve is building your own app ecosphere, some kind of enterprise app store. you could have a look at https://www.relution.io/en/mobile-app-management/ or contact me directly. Best, Karol

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