Apperian Readying “Enterprise App Store” for iPhones and iPads

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enterprise distribution, which is the same as ad hoc distribution, however, it’s for an unlimited amount of devices. That runs the same way as ad hoc distribution, which is a pain. You have to e-mail the IPA file, which is the actual app, and you have to e-mail the provisioning file, which is a separate document, and both of them have to be manually dragged into iTunes from your e-mail, and then you synch your iPhone. There is no way, currently, to do things like automatically install these apps into people’s copies of iTunes, or to remove just a single app if you want to deprovision it.

In EASE, we give IT departments the ability to push apps directly into people’s iTunes accounts. They just show up, and they always have the most recent version, and we do reporting and analytics to make sure they have it installed and it’s working. That’s not only easier for everyone—the other thing that’s important about that is that enterprise apps can live right alongside people’s personal apps. When companies say, “We’re giving you iPhones, but you can only have the apps we’re going to give you,” we don’t think that’s going to fly. It’s important to give the end user the best of both worlds.

X: So you’re not talking about installing apps over-the-air the way you can with apps from the iTunes App Store.

CG: Correct. You still have to synch your phone to get EASE apps. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. A lot of these apps are pretty large, so it would take a long time to download them over the air. But it’s also a challenge, because some people very rarely synch their iPhone. But we feel there’s enough value in EASE to eliminate the burden on IT. Right now, to distribute an app to 5,000 or even 500 phones and manage that process, when you’re managing multiple files and multiple versions, is a nightmare. Any company who has been an early pioneer in developing enterprise iPhone apps is really in pain right now.

X: It sounds like this would also help small app development studios who are managing just 100 copies of an app.

CG: We actually are going to seed EASE to at least a couple hundred or a couple thousand developers so that they can use it for their ad hoc builds. Developers like Apperian are suffering through the same issue on a smaller scale. We think we can sell it to developers as a monthly subscription for Basecamp-type pricing, maybe $20 a month.

X: What’s to stop Apple from coming along and deciding that it’s suddenly interested in enterprise applications, and that it’s going to introduce the same tools that you’re talking about?

CG: That’s a good question. That’s what everybody asks us. And my current response is, historically Apple hasn’t done that. Take a company like Thursby Software. They have created a product called ADmitMac. It’s an Active Directory plugin for Mac OS X. Active Directory is the way most PCs connect to their mail and calendaring servers and all their other applications. There was really no solution in Mac OS X [for connecting to Active Directory], and the reason is that it’s an enterprise feature. Consumers don’t give a crap—they aren’t connecting their home Macs to corporate systems. It wasn’t on Apple’s radar, so they just didn’t do it. But Bill Thursby has made millions of dollars developing … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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