Demystifying the Mobile Enterprise App Store (Part 2)
This is Part 2 of "Demystifying the Mobile Enterprise App Store". I'll focus on Business App Stores, Volume Purchase Programs, and the Company Private App Store Model. The spread of the iTunes App Store model to areas other than the consumer purchase model is accelerating.
Business App Stores can be split into two types: public and private. The public store is basically an aggregation of business focused apps that are available to anyone. In essence, this type of store would provide a more direct channel to business buyers and exclude games and other consumer content which distracts from the B-to-B focus. Today, this type of store can be found in the Android area, since iTunes App Store from Apple is the only authorized public store for iOS (and has a business category).
The private store is a special case, in that it is provided by companies directly to employees or business partners. Since a user is required to authenticate with the company, apps that are normally not made available to the public can be provided in this environment. Examples of this type of store include Apperian and the Verizon Private Applications Store for Business.
In addition, many MDM (mobile device management) vendors provide varying features which have light-weight app catalogs. However, companies that want full control over the branding of the App Catalog, and deep features, may choose a focused "Mobile Application Management" product. Solutions such as EASE may provide multi-platform support, e.g., for both iOS and Android.
However, deploying applications beyond the employee and contractor base is not supported for iOS due to licensing. Android or Blackberry catalogs can be made available to anyone, including non-employees and even end user customers. Apple also recently announced a corporate Volume Purchasing Program, which enables companies to bulk purchase software. This type of program is also offered directly by business software providers such as QuickOffice.
Overall, the options for companies to both deploy their own app catalogs, and enjoy flexibility in sourcing off-the-shelf or custom software is increasing and I expect more options to come as mobile deployment of apps in companies explode in 2012.