TO CUT COSTS AND ENSURE SECURITY, COMPANIES ADOPT A RETAIL MODEL
FOR DISTRIBUTING APPS FOR MOBILE DEVICES TO THEIR EMPLOYEES.
the little shop for apps
ENTERPRISE USE OF SMART PHONES and tablets is exploding, but letting em-
ployees buy applications on their own from the i Tunes or Android app stores can
become a logistical and security nightmare. Instead, companies are setting up their
own stores so they can centralize app procurement; automatically provision and de-
provision software; and even distribute their own custom-made apps to employees.
Merit Medical Systems, a Utah manufacturer, began looking at mobile technology
route,” says Lincoln Cannon, Mer-
it’s director of sales and marketing
“But if users need access if they
lose their Internet connections,
they need to go the native app
Once they expire, the app stops
working. Platforms like AppCen-
tral keep track of credentials and
renew them to ensure there’s no
disruption in service. AppCentral
also lets companies manage apps
even if they’re installed on em-
ployees’ personal devices.
a couple of years ago to improve
collaboration and training for its
sales and marketing staff. At first,
it used Web-based tools, which
don’t require downloading apps.
Merit is evaluating vendors, in
particular San Francisco-based
AppCentral, which lets companies deploy custom apps as well
as those from outside vendors.
Other providers include Ap-perian, MobileIron, Partnerpedia
and Rhomobile. AppCentral lets
companies decide which users
get which apps, what measures
are used to secure the apps and
whether they’re encrypted.
“We have a technology that
stays with the application,” Singer
says. “It lets you update the app
remotely, you can pull back the
authorization for use, lock the ap-
plication, or wipe the data inside
Finally, companies can pur-
chase bulk licenses for third-party
apps, and when an employee
leaves the company, transfer that
license to the next hire—at least,
for Android apps.
Rather than using a vendor,
companies can get a developer
license from Apple and deploy
applications on their own. But that
approach involves some risks.
Each custom app for iPhones or
iPads requires its own credential
from Apple, and credentials have
a life span of one year, says
Companies often get bulk
discounts on software purchases,
Singer says. “When you have
people downloading apps from an
i Tunes store and expensing those
apps, that’s a big problem. The
cost of managing a $1.99 app can
be really high.”
AppCentral CEO Ken Singer.
Apple requires that third-party
apps be bought directly from its
i Tunes store, although private app
stores can gather apps and orga-
nize them for users. For now, at
least, only apps that are custom-
developed for a company can be
Illustration by Taylor Callery
The cost of managing
a $1.99 app can
be really high.