Large scale ad-hoc app distribution?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by whooleytoo, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #1
    Hi, we're considering offering an iPhone app to our clients; a front-end to a large online file sharing/conversion, collaboration, workflow tool. The app itself will be free (though I'm sure there will be a license fee to them to include iPhone usage).

    I'm not sure which distribution model to use. Ad-hoc is too small; Enterprise as I understand it is only for internal use. The App Store is just awkward, there's no point letting the public download an app that is useless without the companion online system; plus you have the hassle of dealing with Apple approval for every release.

    Is there any other way? Are Apple open to requests for custom distribution methods?
     
  2. xStatiCa macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2009
    #2
    It appears that Apple does not have a solution for such a case.

    I at first thought enterprise program would allow distribution to third party customers but that is not the case.

    I need to deploy a private application to third parties that can not be made public. The only solution that Apple could give would be to have every customer that we have sign-up as a developer and we could then create apps for them that they could distribute internally to their own employees. Oh and by the way each customer would need at least 500 employees to get the enterprise deployment otherwise we would need to do ad-hock *testing* distribution. We have hundreds of customers so that is not an option.

    Oh and by the way the only way to do updates through the enterprise distribution program is to distribute the app to your customer so that they can import it into itunes and update the application that way. Needless to say that would be very cumbersome. Custom privately distributed apps on the Blackberry platform can auto-update themselves when a new version is detected so Apple has a long way to go there.

    This is a big hole in Apple's iPhone platform. There are tons of companies that need private applications deployed to third parties that can not legally be distributed to the public. I just hope apple wakes up before Android takes over. This issue caused an iphone rollout to cease in it's tracks. We had to go with another platform. Apple lost 300 iphone deployments... and that number will be growing.

    So all the development work that went into the application is now useless because we can not distribute it to our customers.
     
  3. PhoneyDeveloper macrumors 68030

    PhoneyDeveloper

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    #3
    The pron sites get around this by building web apps. I don't know anything about building web apps but apparently they can be distributed freely without using the app store.
     
  4. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #4
    Thanks, appreciate the responses!

    Ugh.. I had hoped the Enterprise option would suffice, but it won't. All of our clients are over the 500 employee threshold, but asking them to sign up as developers in order to distribute our apps is an awkward kludge.

    Putting it up as a free download on the App Store isn't impossible, but is far from ideal.

    A web app might be an option, except without push notifications the iPhone integration would be much less useful.

    xStatiCa, did you contact Apple directly? If so, might I ask how/where? I'm sure I'll get the same answer if I contact them, but the more developers show a need, the more likely they are to be more flexible.

    Did you use a support incident for this, or do they only deal with technical questions?

    Thanks again!
     
  5. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #5
    Developers have been asking for something like this for over a year.

    The only current solution seems to be to submit the app to the App store and distribute it for free, but require a (paid or registered) online account (or maybe custom MFi hardware) to access or use any proprietary content. There are many apps in the store using this model.

    If you go that path, you'll have to deal with people downloading it who can't use it (lots of 1-star ratings), and the approval delay for updates.

    You could put in access to a dummy data set to make the app useful for advertising/marketing purposes.
     
  6. Darkroom Guest

    Darkroom

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2006
    Location:
    Montréal, Canada
    #6
    interesting. however subjective, i assumed that published apps were to possess general usability and openness to all. does apple no longer send out these rejection letters anymore?:

     
  7. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #7
    Interesting idea - the dummy data. While our system might not be of much interest to the general public, a free iPhone demo for prospective clients isn't a bad idea.

    Poor ratings wouldn't bother me, we would make it as clear as we can that it's only useful as part of a larger system; and it's free so if anyone does download it, it's little lost.

    The approval delay for updates is more of a problem; as it the likelihood that our clients' IT managers would baulk at the idea of telling all their users to go to the iTMS to download the app.

    If they don't allow these types of app to be distributed via the App Store, then they must really not be interested in the large corporate bracket at all.

    Perhaps they feel until they have the time and focus to devote to making the iPhone enterprise-ready, they don't want 3rd party developers dragging them into that market when/where the iPhone isn't yet ready to shine?
     
  8. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #8
    The obvious example are banking apps, which don't allow you to do anything unless you have an account to log in to (except maybe read ads about opening an account with them).

    But there are also apps that only talk to specific hardware (a certain brand of security camera or midi synthesizer, etc.), or specific web services (Citrix virtual server), etc.

    Those apps only have utility if you have an account, device or service, specific to that app.
     
  9. dejo Moderator

    dejo

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Location:
    The Centennial State
    #9
    What specifically about the Enterprise program is not going to suffice? Have you looked through the Enterprise Deployment Guide? Pay particular attention to Chapter 5. I don't see anything there that would prevent you from distributing your app to your clients.
     
  10. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #10
    Supposedly, a dev won't even be considered for an enterprise certificate unless a Dun&Bradstreet rating says their company has over 500 employees and they have access to the company's incorporation papers. Not many devs can do that. And it can take a fair amount of effort with a large corporation that does qualify to get contractual legal authorization to click on all the Apple's agreements as their official representative.
     
  11. whooleytoo thread starter macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #11
    I don't know where in the T&Cs it may be prohibited; but just based on the one-line Enterprise programme intro:

    "For companies with 500 or more employees who are creating proprietary in-house applications for iPhone and iPod touch."

    I'd love to think that's just an oversight on the part of whoever wrote the content for that site; and in fact the Enterprise isn't just limited to in-house development; but I doubt it.
     

Share This Page