Volume Purchase Program: new private distribution options

Drew CrawfordNews

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program opens new opportunities for certain types of distribution scenarios.  Originally designed for educational institutions, the Volume Purchase Program has recently been opened to all businesses.

How does the Volume Purchase Program work?

The Program allows one developer with a Standard Developer Account to sell applications directly to eligible purchasers without making the application publicly available in the app store.  The developer enters the e-mail address of the purchaser who is then authorized to purchase licenses of the application from the developer.

Do VPP apps need to be reviewed?

Yes, Volume Purchase Program applications need to be reviewed like all other app store applications.  The addition of the VPP program does not change the fact that all externally-distributed apps must pass app review.

What’s the difference between VPP and in-house deployment?

In-house deployment typically requires the enterprise to host the application on its own servers and/or distribute the application on its own infrastructure outside the app store.  VPP applications are distributed via the app store, but are only available to authorized purchasers.  With VPP applications, end users update applications in the familiar way using the app store on Apple’s infrastructure.  Purchased applications can be distributed to the actual end-users via promo code mechanism or through the enterprise’s MDM or over-the-air distribution tools.

VPP applications allow the developer to sell the same application to multiple authorized purchasers, whereas it typically requires extensive changes and deployment headaches to deploy an in-house application to multiple enterprises.

VPP applications are licensed per-seat through the App Store with Apple as an intermediary and payment is provided to Apple via credit card.  For traditional in-house development, the enterprise typically pays the contractor or in-house employees directly on a per-project basis or as otherwise negotiated.

With VPP, application updates and maintenance are generally under the control of the developer.  VPP applications do not generally come with source code, although this can be separately negotiated.

What’s the difference between VPP and traditional app store deployment?

VPP applications can be restricted to only authorized purchasers approved by the developer.  VPP applications are not available for purchase by the general public.

VPP applications have a minimum price point of $9.99/license, vs the typical minimum price point of Free or $0.99/license.

 Should I be using the Volume Purchase Program for my application?

If you are writing consumer software, you should not use the Volume Purchase Program.  Continue to use the standard App Store distribution model.

If you are creating an application for a specific company (which can be your own, but does not have to be), we recommend continuing to use in-house distribution, not the Volume Purchase Program.

If you are writing an application for multiple large companies, or an application that only requires minor changes to be used in multiple enterprises, licensing via the VPP program may be the right fit.  In addition, if you are looking for a whitelabel or custom version of an existing application for use in your business, the Volume Purchase Program may be an option to consider.

To see if the Volume Purchase Program is the right fit for your application, get in touch with an iPhone developer who can answer questions specific to your situation.