Apple has announced that the Volume Purchase Program (VPP for short) is coming to business. The VPP allows organizations to purchase applications in bulk. These applications can be standard apps that are on the store, and would be the same price you would otherwise pay, but acquired with a redemption code (similar to how you can gift applications) that is distributed from program facilitators rather than using a credit card.
VPP for Education has been around for awhile and there are a few lessons we've learned from deploying it:
- The VPP can only be used for paid apps, so no free apps
- iBooks and In-App Purchases are not part of the VPP
- The first step is to enroll
- To enroll, you need a Dun & Bradstreet number (DUNS)
- The address you use needs to match the D&B database
- You'll then create a new Apple ID used to manage the account (same ID developers will use if you're using B2B apps), which becomes the Authorized Purchaser
- Once you are logged in as the Authorized Purchaser, you can then search for an App and purchase an unlimited number of them (again, no free Apps) using a credit card, PCard or Paypal (Education customers can buy tax exempt vouchers)
- Then download codes for each installation of the App and email or distribute them as needed (you can have multiple Program Facilitators to do this)
- Codes are distributed in a URL, where users use their Apple ID to redeem the codes (think tap a link and you just bought an app).
Originally, distribution of codes was done manually. I would expect that the future of software distribution using these codes will be through MDM providers. VPP codes can be managed via JAMF, FileWave and others today (think recommended apps), taking a lot of the pain out of software distribution via the App Store.
Additionally, Apple now offers Custom B2B Apps, which as the name implies are custom applications that undergo the same App Store approval process as other apps and can then be distributed via the App Store, which opens up the distribution of private white labeled application versions of apps that are already on the App Store as well as a marketplace for custom developers and enterprise software makers. These apps do have a minimum of $9.99 but there are a number of ways vendors can built that into licensing models.
The extension of the VPP into business and some new additions that weren't present in the education version of the VPP are welcomed to those who have been doing large deployments of iOS devices. There are still a lot of issues that need to be worked out around this strategy of application deployment; however, it's good to see a little traction!