One little-known feature of Apple’s App Store ecosystem is its App Store Volume Purchase Program (ASVPP). The program allows educational institutions to purchase volume licenses for software in the iOS App Store.

To purchase volume licenses, a company must first purchase a Volume Voucher — a physical card in denominations of $100, $500, $1000, $5000, and $10,000 that can be used only to purchase apps at the App Store Volume Purchase Program portal. They cannot be used to purchase apps directly from the App Store.

Once entered in the Program Portal, administrators (named Program Facilitators in Apple’s FAQ) can select which apps they need and download a spreadsheet with promo codes for said apps. From there, users can enter the code in the correct App Store and gain access to the software.

Developers can take advantage of this system as well, to make their apps more attractive to a larger customer base. App developers can offer their software at a reduced rate just to ASVPP customers — Apple offers a special pricing that is 50% of the list price to education institutions when they purchase 20 or more copies of the app.

Businesses customers will soon be able to take advantage of this system, as well.

Developers can now build and submit custom business-to-business (B2B) apps to Apple through the ASVPP. With a minimal price of $9.99, these apps can include:

  • A personalized UI including company logo or branding
  • Unique capabilities specific to a business process or workflow
  • Extra privacy protection to handle sensitive data
  • A specific configuration to meet the customer’s server/back-office environment or IT environment
  • Features targeting a limited audience, such as a business partner, dealer, or franchise

B2B apps cannot be sold to the general public — they are only available to customers the developer has approved within iTunes Connect. This is a seperate class of apps apart from “in-house” apps, which businesses can deploy without the iOS App Store.

The ASVPP is not available for Mac apps at this time. With Apple pushing more of its own software — like OS X Lion — via the Mac App Store, hopefully the ASVPP will become available for Mac apps as well. Educational and business customers have Macs in staggering numbers, and having a better way to distribute and manage app installation would be a welcome change.

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