Apple Introduces App Store Volume Purchasing for Business

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Apple today introduced its Volume Purchase Program for Business Apps. The program, available "soon," answers a simple question that has had no satisfactory answer: How does a company buy apps for its users?

Some notes:

  • Businesses must have a Dun & Bradstreet number to participate, and go through a validation process.
  • Admins will be asked to create a new Apple ID for exclusive use with the Business VPP.
  • There are no minimum or maximum quantities for purchase.
  • Only paid apps are available through VPP. Free apps should be downloaded by the device user.
  • Payment must be made via corporate credit card or PayPal. (There seems to be no mechanism for purchase orders at this time.)

The program seems to follow the contours of the Education VPP system, introduced last year. The enrollment process, which is not yet online, is outlined in a PDF. Here's what they say about distribution:

Distributing apps purchased through the Volume Purchase Program is easy. For each app you purchase you’ll receive a redemption code to authorize the app download. The program website delivers these redemption codes in a spreadsheet format that contains multiple codes, one for each app in the quantity purchased. Each time a code is redeemed, the spreadsheet is updated on the program website so you can track the number of codes that have been redeemed by your users. The spreadsheet also includes a redemption URL with the redemption code embedded in the link so users don’t have to type or enter the redemption code manually when downloading apps.

Apple suggests that you email these URLs to each user, but I'd rather poke my eye with a stick. Alternatively, expect your MDM Provider to allow for VPP Integration. Casper Suite and Absolute Manage MDM already has this feature, and I hope others quickly jump on board.

So the user clicks on the link, they visit the Apple store, "purchase" the app, and the redemption code is used in lieu of payment. Then the app downloads and installs.

Read the documentation closely, and you'll find a second new initiative: Apple is releasing private app distribution for businesses. The idea here is to combine custom app development but use VPP for distribution, creating a new market strategy for enterprise-focused developers. (And Apple will happily take its 30% cut for the service.) Sound interesting?

Any outstanding questions? Do you like the plan? Please add your comments below.

Share your ideas

Scott.Morabito's picture

Scott.Morabito

Joined: Nov 19, 2010
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Terms of use win

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Finally we can stop worrying about legal issues for enterprise deployments. The real win here is that merely having purchase codes retained for auditing purposes is enough to comply with the iTunes Store terms of use.

The edu VPP was implemented rather quickly after it was announced in August last year. Let's hope this round is happens as fast.

Here's the blurb from the edu faq on licensing:

"Can you give me an example of using a single code to sync an app to multiple devices?
For example, using this optional means of distribution, an institution with 100 devices could purchase 100 copies of an app and receive 100 app-specific codes and URLs. The institution could then distribute a smaller number of codes (for example, one code to each of five classrooms). These codes would be redeemed through the iTunes library of the computer used to synchronize the students’ devices. If each of the five classes has 20 devices, then, after syncing, 100 devices would each have the app even though only five of the app-specific codes are used. The remaining 95 codes may not be used but should be retained for accounting and audit purposes."

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Tim Williams's picture

Tim Williams

Joined: Jan 4, 2011

VPP Absolutely supported...

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Absolute Manage MDM software also supports the Volume Purchase Program!

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Aaron Freimark's picture

Aaron Freimark

Joined: Nov 6, 2010
WWW

Oops

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I've updated the story to reflect Absolute Manage's feature.

--
Aaron Freimark, Enterprise iOS founder & GroundControl CEO

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moniqa's picture

moniqa

Joined: Aug 11, 2011

Volume purchasing

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Hi,

1. Does this mean we cannot have our own volume purchasing in Australia ?
2. An alternate to this would be having a US based MDM provider who can buy the VPP license ?

Any help would be appreciated.
Moniqa

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edwinvan52's picture

edwinvan52

Joined: Aug 9, 2011

Finally we can stop

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Finally we can stop worrying about legal issues for enterprise deployments. The real win here is that merely having purchase codes retained for auditing purposes is enough to comply with the iTunes Store terms of use.
The edu VPP was implemented rather quickly after it was announced in August last year. Let's hope this round is happens as fast.
Here's the blurb from the edu faq on licensing:
"Can you give me an example of using a single code to sync an app to multiple devices?
For example, using this optional means of distribution, an institution with 100 devices could purchase 100 copies of an app and receive 100 app-specific codes and URLs. The institution could then distribute a smaller number of codes (for example, one code to each of five classrooms). These codes would be redeemed through the iTunes library of the computer used to synchronize the students’ devices. If each of the five classes has 20 devices, then, after syncing, 100 devices would each have the app even though only five of the app-specific codes are used. The remaining 95 codes may not be used but should be retained for accounting and audit purposes."
wireless network monitoring

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Cimarron's picture

Cimarron

Joined: Mar 7, 2011
WWW

RE: Volume purchasing

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The Apple VPP program is currently not available outside of the US. Based on the terms of service, it is not possible to have another entity (such as a vendor) 'purchase' codes for you. In any event, if you tried to do that, it would not work if your user's iTunes accounts were linked with the Australian iTunes server.

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Cimarron's picture

Cimarron

Joined: Mar 7, 2011
WWW

Apple VPP Program Guide

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For those interested in how the VPP program works for both "commercial" (e.g., iTunes App Store apps) and "custom" (e.g., one-off apps for businesses), we have a guide for both companies and developers.

Apple VPP (Volume Purchase Program): Information for Companies and Developers can be accessed at http://www.apperian.com/technote/apple_vpp_volume_purchase_program_guide.

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5thGear's picture

5thGear

Joined: Nov 7, 2011

Validity term for claim codes?

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Does anyone know how long the claim codes generated via this mechanism (VPP or Custom B2B) are valid? Promo codes are only valid for 30 days (or is it 28?) after which they expire, never to be regenerated. Is the same true for the claim codes purchased in a B2B app purchase? If not, how much longer are the B2B app claim codes valid?

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5thGear's picture

5thGear

Joined: Nov 7, 2011

TechNote no longer available

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The TechNote shown Cimarron's post above

http://www.apperian.com/technote/apple_vpp_volume_purchase_program_guide

now results in a 404 error... was the note removed intentionally?

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Cimarron's picture

Cimarron

Joined: Mar 7, 2011
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RE: TechNote no longer available

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Looking into it right now. We just updated website, thanks for reporting.

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Cimarron's picture

Cimarron

Joined: Mar 7, 2011
WWW

RE: Validity term for claim codes?

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There is nothing specifically mentioning the corporate VPP program.

However, the FAQ for the education VPP program (http://www.apple.com/itunes/education/faq/) states:

Do app-specific codes expire after a certain time?

No, you do not need to use the codes within a fixed period of time.

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5thGear's picture

5thGear

Joined: Nov 7, 2011

Claim code validity period

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Cimarron, thank you.

I also just found this FAQ...
https://vpp.itunes.apple.com/faq/www.apple.com/business/vpp

which states

"23. Do redemption codes expire?
No."

so that's two direct sources saying the redeem codes are good forever.

thanks.

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