Apple targets enterprises with volume-purchase App Store plan

iPad maker launches program to encourage businesses to buy mobile apps

Maybe Apple didn't initially plan for its iPhones and iPads to become enterprise sensations, but now that they have, the company is taking advantage of it.

A new Volume Purchase Program on the company's App Store urges large corporations to "unleash the power of the App Store to your entire workforce":

"Whether you’re providing apps to ten employees or ten thousand, the Volume Purchase Program makes it simple to find, buy, and distribute the apps your business needs. The Volume Purchase Program also provides a way to purchase custom B2B apps built by third-party developers to meet the unique needs of your business."

Apple's astonishing assault on the enterprise is the result of the mobile revolution and the "consumerization of IT" -- both of which were spearheaded by Apple with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad tablet three years later.

(Also see: How Apple played hard to get and seduced the enterprise)

The popularity of Apple's mobile devices spread from consumers to the enterprise as enthusiastic iPhone and iPad owners insisted on using their new toys in the workplace. IT resistance to this infiltration generally has been futile, while an ecosystem of mobile-device and apps managers has arisen to help enterprises securely integrate Apple mobile devices (and those running on Google's Android OS).

The iPhone may have fired the first shot in the IT consumerization war, but it was the iPad that blew open the enterprise doors. Since its release in 2010, Apple has sold nearly 30 million units of its tablet device. The iPad has become wildly popular in the financial sector, while 90% of the Fortune 500 has already embraced or is seriously testing the device.

Apple's Volume Purchase Program offers enterprise buyers the opportunity to:

1. Buy apps in volume (though at the same price listed in the App Store, not at a discount).

2. Get custom B2B apps built by third-party developers and business partners.

3. Easily distribute apps through a system of redemption codes. Enterprises can manage redemption codes themselves or turn over the task to a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) service provider.

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