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Bridging the Mac App Store gap | #macos | #macsecurity | #hacking | #aihp


Apple at Work is bought to you by Jamf: Get complete management and security solutions for your organization that are enterprise secure, consumer simple, and protect personal privacy with Jamf. Plus you’ll get same-day support for the latest Apple OS upgrades, Today, over 62,000 organizations trust Jamf to manage and secure over 27 million devices.

The Mac App Store is a great place to obtain and deploy software with a device management system like Mosyle, Kandji, Jamf, Addigy, Hexnode, etc. With tight integration into Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program, the Mac App Store is the ideal place to get Mac software in the enterprise. The problem? The vast majority of software needed by enterprises is not available in the Mac App Store, so custom app catalogs come into play.

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, 100s of Macs, and 100s 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.


Why the Mac App Store is the best place to get apps

From an enterprise IT perspective, installing apps from the Mac App Store is a seamless experience. It’s tightly integrated into Apple’s Volume Purchase Program with Apple Business Manager or Apple School Manager. If you want to deploy apps from the Mac App Store to thousands of Macs, it takes just a few clicks. Apple vets all the apps and all the updates. Developers can offer volume purchase discounts for customers buying over 20 copies at a time as well. From a high level, the Mac App Store is a win/win/win for Apple, customers, and developers. Apple gets a cut of the revenue, developers have a great storefront, and customers get a seamless process. 

For the first two years of its life, the Mac App Store was a runaway success. Developers loved it because it reduced piracy and made it easier for customers to find their software. Users loved it because they could install new apps with just a few clicks, and updates were automatic. Over time, developers have grown weary of it, though. Thankfully, MDM vendors are stepping up to bridge the gap with their own app catalogs.

Why the Mac App Store is the worst place to get apps

Apple has done a lot of good for the Mac App Store, but it’s not perfect. Here are some of the biggest problems:

  • The cut that Apple takes can be high (30%). This means developers have to sell more copies in order to make as much money as they would otherwise.
  • Software updates need approval from Apple before they can be released. This slows down development and makes software less reliable than it could be when non-MAS versions get updates faster.
  • Many apps simply aren’t available in the Mac App Store. The great thing about the iOS App Store is that it’s the single place to find everything. With the Mac App Store, many developers avoid it due to Apple’s commission or Sandbox restrictions required by Apple’s developer guidelines. Conclusion:The Mac App Store might be a great way for Apple to make money, but it’s not the best way for developers to do so. 

MDM vendors are bridging the gap with App Catalogs

At the JNUC this year, Jamf announced that it offers more than 100 App Installers to help lower IT’s workload and improve security on an organization’s fleet of devices. App Installers are non-MAS apps that are pre-vetted and maintained (patched, updated, monitored for risk, etc.). In the coming months, Jamf will be rolling out new App Installer features that include enhanced notifications, making it easier to install applications in Self Service so users see only those apps relevant to them that are authorized by IT.

Jamf isn’t the only company that offers an App catalog, though. Mosyle offers a Mac App Store like experience when installing macOS apps not yet available on the App Store. Currently, it offers over 160 fully automated Mac apps, and new apps are added weekly. Mosyle automates the process of setting permissions (for each app) on your device. Kandji also hosts and secures a library of popular apps and tests every update before rolling it out to your fleet. You have full control over the parameters for updating, and users can defer installing updates until a time that suits them best.

We’ve now seen how MDM vendors are bridging the gap where Apple’s Mac App Store falls short. Apple’s own Apple Business Essential recently added the ability to load third party apps through its platform, but it does require you to host the apps yourself. Overall, customers are finding solutions with some great MDM vendors who are deploying some fantastic features.

Apple at Work is bought to you by Jamf: Get complete management and security solutions for your organization that are enterprise secure, consumer simple, and protect personal privacy with Jamf. Plus you’ll get same-day support for the latest Apple OS upgrades, Today, over 62,000 organizations trust Jamf to manage and secure over 27 million devices.

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