Bespoke App Distribution – a Show Stopper for iOS in the Enterprise?

It may well be that one often overlooked issue may be a decisive factor in determining which tablet platforms become enterprise favourites: are the available distribution channels appropriate for distributing bespoke apps?

In my experience, when corporate customers purchase content or knowledge management tools, a significant consideration is the scope for company specific customisation of functionality. For the kind of custom dashboard and CM tools that my clients routinely want, this involves the release of custom installation packages.

Let me make a broad assumption that for many organisations this kind of customisation will continue to be important – along with specific security considerations. This means a continuing need for bespoke app releases.

For Apple’s iOS distribution means either iTunes or direct distribution from Apple developer accounts, which requires you to build individual user device details into distributions in advance, as well as limiting the number you can send it to. By comparison, sending bespoke apps to any Android user is a breeze – you can just email it to anyone who needs it without extra builds.

The bottom line is that unless Apple introduce a way of distributing bespoke builds to a restricted user group, then it’s hard to see how the iPad or iPhone can be a long term corporate favourite for any company that needs more than either pure web apps or pure vanilla general release apps. Does Apple have the appetite for opening other distribution channels for the corporate Market – only time will tell!

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About jonallenby
I'm the co-founder and Technical Director of a new media agency - Lime Media. I would describe myself as having a healthy scepticism about technology - new ways of doing things are always new, but they are not necessarily better. Best to cut through the hype and think about how technology will physically change people's lives, for better or worse. I am also struggling to finish a part-time PhD in language, metaphor and philosophy at Goldsmith's College, University of London. Apart from thinking and reading, I like playing with my children, cross-country running and White Crane Kung-Fu - though usually not all at once.

One Response to Bespoke App Distribution – a Show Stopper for iOS in the Enterprise?

  1. There are several ways for companies to create, manage and deploy bespoke apps. First, the IOS Developer Enterprise Program (IDEP) enables developers to build apps that will run on any IOS device, without the requirement of going through the iTunes App Store, or building “ad hoc” versions that are limited to specific devices via their UDID.

    Services that facilitate the deployment of these apps, include Apperian EASE, which enable enterprise developers to deploy apps over the air and manage their lifecycle (i.e., updates). Another way to distribute IOS apps is with Test Flight, which is popular for beta testing.

    However, if you build apps with an “Enterprise” profile, the distribution is limited to employees and contractors of the company (at least at this point).

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