Apple Business Essentials – What You Need to Know
Big News Alert! Apple recently announced the release of Apple Business Essentials (ABE), a new service that aims to make IT management and support easier for small and medium-sized enterprises. The subscription service brings new functionality not previously available on iOS devices, allowing companies to manage devices, apps, and support from a single location.
For the first time, businesses will be able to utilize ABE to easily manage iCloud storage for their employees (without physically touching each device), manage Apple Care+, and use Apple’s own MDM-lite. The iCloud management functionality is a huge win for managing company data; while managed Apple IDs have been around for a while, it was not previously possible to buy more iCloud storage from an admin console. We envision that ABE will give businesses greater control in managing and preserving company data by mitigating instances where sensitive data is stored on a user’s personal account.
Starting from $2.99/month per device, we suspect ABE will have a compelling value proposition for businesses that are iOS only. However, ABE will likely always be a step behind its competitors, as it will not work on other devices that don’t run iOS. With that in mind, we do not foresee the new service being worth it for the iCloud management alone, especially if you are managing more than just iOS devices -- in which case, you’ll need a Unified endpoint management (UEM) solution. If you are an all-Apple shop, you might think it is a no-brainer, but we are withholding our recommendation until we’ve had a chance to review the product (which may take some time, as we are currently waiting to enter the beta).
The decision maker for us is largely going to come down to the maturity of ABE’s MDM features. While the company has confirmed it will have functionality like lost mode, App deployment, and user assignment; it is not yet clear if it will compete with the major players toe to toe. Apple’s marketing has focused on ABE as an all-encompassing service for managing devices, but it did not go into great detail about the MDM elements. With the public beta in its infancy, and a full release scheduled for spring of 2022, only time will tell if the development matches the marketing. Be sure and tune in as we deliver our full write up in the future, once we are admitted to the beta.