Apple's business plan. The Volume Purchase Program for Business

Apple's business plan. The Volume Purchase Program for Business

Summary: Apple knows that you use their devices for work and now they're helping you purchase Apps in bulk from the App Store.


Over the past few months, I've read a lot of snarky comments about Apple and business. If you've kept up with my Consumerization column, you've seen them as well. 

"Apple is a consumer-only company."


"Apple doesn't care about business or the Enterprise."

Wrong, wrong.

"Apple doesn't want to be a business-to-business company."


You'll understand my flippant answers once you check out Apple's App Store Volume Purchase Program for Business (VPP). The VPP is a way to intelligently manage Apps in business. It allows business owners and bean counters (Accountants) to track App purchases and to better manage licenses. Without a program like this a company could spend thousands or hundreds of thousands more than necessary on repeat purchases, prohibited Apps and Apps that either have no place in a business environment or Apps that don't properly fit into the corporate work flow.

The VPP is Apple's way of enabling businesses to use its, and third-party, products wisely. The result of using the VPP is a better use of tight corporate software funds and a more fiscally responsible business culture. In other words, it's a good thing.

Enrollment in the VPP is easy but before you begin, there are three things you'll need to have handy:

  • Basic contact information to verify your business
  • Dun & Bradstreet number (D-U-N-S)
  • Corporate credit card, PayPal or PCard to purchase apps

 The basic information includes a business phone, address and an email address. The business address must match the Dun & Bradstreet information. Your email address must be from a business email address and not from a or type consumer domain. All information is compared to the Dun & Bradstreet database and must match exactly.

You'll also need to create a separate Apple ID for the VPP. This Apple ID is separate and distinct from all other Apple IDs and services, including iTunes.

In addition to offering apps from the App Store, the Volume Purchase Program enables businesses to get custom B2B apps developed for their unique needs. Businesses can work with third-party app developers and business partners to get custom B2B apps securely and privately through the program. The Volume Purchase Program is available in the United States only.

With the Volume Purchase Program you can search for apps, determine the quantity needed, and easily complete the purchase with a corporate credit card or procurement card. To start buying apps in volume, you’ll need to enroll in the program and create a volume purchasing account with Apple. Once you’re enrolled in the program you can go to the program website to purchase apps. Any paid app from the App Store is available for volume purchase at the existing App Store price. Custom B2B apps can be free or purchased at the price set by the developer.

When you purchase Apps through the VPP, you'll receive redemption codes for the Apps that authorize download and installation.

And, good news for App developers. Developers enrolled in the iOS Developer program can create custom B2B apps for customers who are also enrolled in the Volume Purchase Program.

If you've purchased a Mobile Device Management software suite, you can easily manage your redemption codes and VPP Apps through that interface. Additionally, businesses can use the Apple Configurator for OS X to manage redemption codes.

Apple products are no longer just for consumers, schools, chemical laboratories, colleges, universities, graphic designers, architects, retail companies, restaurants, airlines, movie studios, cartoonists, newspapers, magazines or publishers; they're for every type of business. Yes, even yours. The VPP proves it.

Has your company enrolled in the VPP yet? If so, talk back and let us know how it's working for you. If not, are you going to consider it now?

Topics: Apple, Apps, Enterprise Software, Mobility


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Note quite there ...

    VPP is a first step but is not quite what enterprise wants or needs for large scale iOS deployments. Your can't "manage" the Apps your purchase outside over who you gift them to. Thats right gift, you buy them and give them to an employee. Unless you also manage the iTunes account you have no way to reuse this App if the user ever leaves your company. Even if you owned the iTunes account it's a spreadsheet mess trying to keep track of which iTunes account has which Apps. Workable with a handful of devices and iTunes accounts but impossible once you get 100+ not to mention 1,000 devices and iTunes accounts.

    The creation of iTunes account is still a mess, it's still consumer focused and requires a single credit card for purchases. You still have a 5 device limit per iTunes account but doing so would lose any purchasing per device.

    Those of us in the Apple enterprise peer group have asked for since iPads become popular for a number of things:

    1. A master enteprise iTunes account that can be installed on all corporate owned devices.
    2. One credit card or allign with corporate billing better
    3. The ability with above account to white / black list Apps
    4. Reporting to show all Apps downloaded and purchased
    5. A better way to mass create iTunes accounts if you choose to use individual accounts, which should link to mention enterprise billing process

    Apple cannot even tell you how many iTunes accounts use your company domain (

    Apple's answer to many of these: Just let employees do all this. Our employeess can bareley remember their password. The process to create the iTunes account is fairly involved, you also need to figure out if you will support and allow iTunes to be installed as yes it's still needed to manage the iTunes account. Then you need to figure out what to do about App reimbursement as employees would be using their own credit card / iTunes account.

    So your stuck either doing it the Apple way or pushing all this mess back on employees via BYOD and that is what most companies are doing.
    • Not quite right

      @mobileadmin has some valid points, but is no longer correct in his understanding of who can own the apps. Apple Configurator and VPP answer his points 1, 2, and 3, and if used properly, should remove the need for a bunch of corporate accounts, because Configurator can maintain the redemption codes (tied to one corporate account) in a database of its own for supervised iPads, allowing the company to retain and reuse those apps on other Configurator-supervised iPads when they are removed from the ones on which they were originally installed. details this process.
      In addition, his "5 devices per iTunes account" is totally incorrect for App Store purchases. If the app is owned by an individual, they can redownload the app for any device they own. If the app is owned by a company or institution, it's exactly one per device according to the EULA. This is why Configurator is so key in dealing with volume purchasing, to maintain and enforce owning a code for every device.
      • Mac Only

        We're not about to purchase a Mac to use this App and it fails to address the main issue.

        Apple needs to support an enterprise procurement and billing for AppStore. We don't want to "gift" Apps. If we purchase 200 copies of iAnnotate we should be able to use those with any iTunes account / re install the App etc. Thats how every other enterprise software licensing works.

        I'm not talking about free Apps or home built stuff. Cost Apps like Keynote, Good Reader etc.

        Can you install an iTunes account on more than one device now? I believe the limit was 5 for awhile. Same iTunes account on 100 devices or more thats why I'd prefer an enterprise master account.

        Apple doesn't get or want to deal with enterprise - period
  • VPP is a good building block: there are tools to help

    I agree with @MobileAdmin that VPP doesn't solve every problem that enterprises may have with large iOS roll outs. However, in terms of bulk purchasing apps, it's a great start.

    Once companies get their VPP "spreadsheet" with codes, administrators can use mobile application management (MAM) solutions or mobile device management (MDM) solutions to help manage the codes. This helps to inventory the codes, determine who has used which codes and let an admin know when codes are running low.

    We have found that many companies want to encourage the use of productivity apps, and providing pre-paid apps to employees is a great way to do it! In the BYOD world today, companies can get great bang for the buck - why not buy $20 worth of apps for employees to get kicking?

    @kenhess: When companies build their own apps, or contract to have custom apps built, they can the b-to-b VPP program. But many companies choose to use "direct" distribution to employees via a mobile app management (MAM) solution: this allows the companies to fully manage these apps, and delete the apps and data when an employee leaves. You can't do this with VPP apps (since they are "owned" by the invidivual).
  • Check out free apps

    It's worthwhile to keep up with free app offerings, especially if you own or run a business. App costs add up fast multiplied by devices. Someone needs to stay abreast of temporary free offerings. See
    Steve Nagel
  • Business friendly? Really?

    I'm sorry but how long did it take Apple to update the Mac Pro with all the rumors of eliminating the platform? The "new" Mac Pro was simply a warmed over chip upgrade with no Thunderbolt interface. That, and nothing like getting a whopping 5% business discount. I'll be sure not to spend it all in one place. Purchasing apps is a very very VERY small part of the overall business use/purchase of hardware and software. iPhones and iPads and their accompanying software are fine for mobile users, but for most common office use, software is purchased directly from the vendor, without Apple overhead. I'll worry about my own software, give me better pricing on "real" business hardware. That would be more business friendly to me. Despite all the hype, not every business is into mobile this, mobile that. There are actually still some people who actually sit at a desk without an iPhone in one hand and iPad in another. Hardware, especially Apple's, is still considerably more money than apps. Better pricing is more business friendly than app distribution.