April 16, 2012, 6:11 AM — With more employees using smartphones and tablets for business, enterprises are setting up their own app stores for application distribution, leveraging a consumer model for mobile application access that is tuned to the workplace. Instead of saddling already overburdened IT personnel with getting applications to individual devices, these app stores provide a central distribution mechanism for employees to download applications themselves.
App store technologies from companies such as AppCentral, App47, and Apperian mimic popular consumer app stores such as Google Play (formerly the Android Market) and Apple's App Store but provide access to applications needed in the workplace. Organizations control access to the stores, which can be cloud-based. Users then access the stores directly from their devices, whether corporate-issued or self-purchased, and view a palette of applications, which can either be developed by third parties or in-house.
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"This whole app store concept is a way to seamlessly deploy these mobile apps to users," says Vizay Kotikalapudi, senior manager for endpoint management and mobility at Symantec, which in a recent survey of IT pros at 6,275 organizations found that 66% of respondents were considering development of a corporate app store. That's a huge shift from 2011, says App47 CEO Chris Schroeder: "The enterprise was not focused at all around mobile apps or enterprise app stores" in 2011, but "in 2012, we're seeing the complete opposite."