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5 things you need to know about Apple's Volume Purchase Program

Matt Kapko | Aug. 7, 2015
Apple hopes to bolster its position in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) market in September with its new iOS 9 software, which packs key features and overdue enhancements for IT administrators. Apple's Volume Purchase Program (VPP), a specialized App Store and service that lets businesses purchase software licenses in bulk and then distribute apps to multiple users, will soon give admins more options to install, update and remove business apps.

"If you have all the paperwork that you need upfront it will take ... a week or two to get through this," says Tad Johnson, commercial marketing manager at JAMF Software, a mobile device management vendor for Apple products. "Once you get past the internal authorization piece, the paperwork with Apple is pretty quick."

Program members get access to a custom App Store with thousands of paid apps in categories such as business, productivity, finance and travel. Some books from Apple's iBooks Store are available for purchase through the program, as well. 

How much does it cost to enroll in Apple's VPP? 

It's free for a business to join Apple VPP, but companies must pay licensing fees for all of the apps they purchase.

How do you make bulk app purchases using Apple VPP? 

After Apple approves an organization's VPP enrollment request, it can create multiple administrator accounts that give individuals the authority to purchase apps on behalf of their organizations. Apple puts no limit on the number of VPP administrator accounts businesses can have. The VPP store lets approved administrators search for apps, specify how many licenses they want to purchase, choose the distribution type, and finally, place orders using VPP credit or corporate credit cards on file. 

What is the difference between VPP managed distribution and redeemable codes?

Managed distribution allows VPP administrators to assign, update, revoke and reassign apps or books through their mobile device management (MDM) providers, assuming those providers support the VPP program. "Your MDM server becomes linked with Apple so when you purchase an app your MDM server receives inventory information and you can then assign that app to one of your employees" or a specific device of their choosing, says Adam Codega, an IT specialist at Swipely, a business analytics company and Apple VPP member.

"Managed distribution makes it much easier for organizations who are doing this in large scale," says Johnson. "Now an IT administrator can purchase apps in bulk ... and they can make an assignment of which users in their organizations are going to get what collection of apps."

To take advantage of the managed distribution model, businesses must integrate their MDM solutions with the VPP store via a token that's renewed once a year. IT admins typically invite users to participate by sending email or push notifications, via MDM servers, to users' devices. Administrators can also revoke and reassign VPP licenses as employees leave the organization or no longer need specific apps.

VPP redeemable codes are the "equivalent of sending your staff gift cards," says Codega. Employees can enter these codes in the App Store to "purchase" and download apps, but the codes are single use, which means an employer cannot reassign the license to another employee or device.


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