How many Apple IDs do I need for purchasing and deploying Apps

It’s a question many people who are tasked with deploying iOS devices ask. In Apple’s world where devices are all personal devices, one Apple ID was enough. It works for the MacAppStore, the AppStore, iTunesStore, iCloud, FaceTime, Messages and probably other services I haven’t used yet.

When we start to get to the institutional use of iOS life gets a little more complicated as there’s quite a different requirement for purchase and deployment of Apps, and the use of AppleIDs for Apple’s cloud services.

With VPP now available in many countries, I think that institutions which aren’t using VPP (even for small numbers of apps) should be looking to use VPP for all purchases as a method to manage and account for expenditure, and where possible to reduce the number of app purchases which walk out the door with someone when they leave an organisation.

Sure, a few $2.99 purchases don’t seem much, but as a wise Scotsman once said ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. If a person has iMovie, Keynote, Pages, Notability, Inspiration Maps on their device, there’s a cost of $51 (NZD) for providing this. Multiple this by a few staff, add in some staff attrition each year as staff leave, then the annual cost of purchasing new apps can be quite high.

My views below on the number of AppleIDs needed is based on an addendum to Apple’s terms and conditions which have;

“Additional Terms and Conditions: If you will be using the apps you download through a fewer number of accounts than the number of codes that are bought or copies of the app that will be used, and using those accounts to transfer the apps onto multiple devices for multiple end users, you must agree to these additional terms and conditions:

You agree that your authorization is limited to purchasing multiple App Store Product licenses solely for use by individuals associated with your educational institution, such as contractors, employees and students, in accordance with the App Store Terms and Conditions. Solely as an accommodation to you, Apple agrees to permit you to use a single code to sync an App Store Product to multiple devices, up to the number of codes you have purchased (instead of having to redeem a separate code for each license), provided that you meet the following terms:

  • You agree to sync no more copies than the number of codes you purchased.
  • You agree that you shall be fully responsible for any use of and any loss or harm to Apple or third parties arising from the codes you purchased.
  • You agree to keep complete and accurate records of all uses of the codes you purchased.
  • You understand that this accommodation may only be available for a limited period of time and Apple makes no guarantee regarding forward compatibility with future versions of iOS or the availability of this accommodation for new product versions.
  • Apple shall have the right to request supplementary information and audit relevant records to confirm your compliance with these terms.

” (quoted from T&Cs seen when a VPP purchasing account is first used)

Given this accomodation from Apple, this means that we can use three AppleIDs for all purchase and deployment of Apps.

  1. A VPP Program Manager account. This account is needed as the overall management account for an institution to be able to use the VPP Program. It shouldn’t be used for anything else other than creating Program Facilitator accounts. This account is never put onto iOS devices, never used in iTunes. Only use it at for enrolling into the VPP Program and managing Program Facilitator accounts
  2. A VPP Program Facilitator account. This account is needed to purchase VPP codes. Again, it’s never put onto iOS devices and never used in iTunes. Only use it at for purchasing VPP codes.
  3. An Apple ID for redeeming one VPP redemption code. Remember, Apple allow us to purchase the right number of codes for the number of devices we have, and then use a single code to sync an App Store product to multiple devices.

Before we had Apple Configurator some of us used iTunes to sync to multiple devices. This accommodation from Apple lets us keep doing this, which in situations where internet bandwidth is limited can be a god-send.

An MDM solution is a great way to keep track of the number of copies of an App which has been installed, and can also be used to deploy new Apps.

iOS7 and the new Caching Server component of Mac OS 10.9 may change this model and the changes signalled to how updates will work will also have an effect.

See – OS X Server  Caching Server 2 speeds up the download and delivery of software through the App Store, Mac App Store, and iTunes Store, and it can now cache on your server for faster downloading to iOS 7 devices. And Profile Manager has an array of new management features for iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks that simplify software distribution of apps and books.

and – Intelligently Scheduled Updates.

In the meantime, consider using the minimum number of accounts, redeeming the minimum number of codes and keep track of the number of copies of apps you deploy.



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