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Apple @ Work: Why Apple Business Essentials is not a direct competitor to other MDM vendors

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Apple Business Essentials is an important product for Apple. I’ve talked to many companies who manage Macs and iPads, and they’re not interested in the service. This is a good thing though. Apple isn’t looking to control 100% of the device management market. Companies like Kandji, Jamf, Mosyle, JumpCloud, and Addigy do a great job of enabling Apple to work great in the enterprise. The enemy of Apple Business Essentials is not other MDM vendors. It’s unmanaged devices.

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers managed an enterprise IT network from 2009 to 2021. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, hundreds of Macs, and hundreds of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.

When Apple purchased Fleetsmith, I think the first reaction in the Mac admin community was somewhat adverse. Yes, Apple made a mistake by removing the App catalog feature right away. However, I believe Apple’s intentions with Apple Business Essentials are to help small businesses have a better Mac, iPhone, and iPad experience. From the ease of purchasing in a customized business store to zero-touch onboarding to easily keeping devices secure day to day, Apple wants a business as small as two people to as large as 500 to have a great experience with Mac devices. Yes, Apple loves subscription revenue from Apple Business Essentials, but they love selling Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

What happens if a company outgrows Apple Business Essentials?

Apple Business Essentials

If a company grows from 300 people to 1,000 and outgrows Apple Business Essentials, that’s not bad for Apple because they just sold 700 MacBook Airs to that company.

The feature of Apple Business Essentials is aimed at helping small businesses without a Mac expert continue to have a great experience. As a company grows, bringing some of that expertise in-house might make sense, and the company could go with a more fully-featured MDM product. The design of Apple Business Manager is so that a company can easily connect a new MDM server to their account and re-enroll all of their devices into the new MDM. All of the existing application licenses will quickly be made available. Apple designed its platforms for customers never to be locked into a single vendor – even itself.

The enemy is unmanaged devices

As I said initially, Apple’s goal with Apple Business Essentials is not to take over the MDM market. A thriving MDM market is good for Apple. Different vendors have different integrations and different focuses. Enterprise customers like options and want to avoid being locked in to a vendor. Apple designed Apple Business Essentials to get customers off zero when it comes to managed devices and on a path to a better Mac management experience.

Instead of buying Macs from local big-box retailers and setting them up manually, Apple wants business customers to have an enterprise-class experience from purchasing, onboarding, and configuration. If that’s in Apple Business Essentials or another MDM vendor, Apple wins either way.

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