Managing Apple devices can be a chore for small businesses – setting up each device takes time and it can be difficult to manage them in the field without being invasive, especially when it comes to bringing your own devices.
Last year, Apple introduced a new beta program called Apple Business Essentials designed to help small businesses solve this problem, and today the company announced that it is now open to any legitimate small business to register in the United States
As Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of corporate marketing and education, said, small business owners aren’t IT professionals, and it gives them an easier way to manage Apple devices.
“As these businesses grow, the demands on time also increase. If you have more employees, you will probably have more devices. And that can mean time managing those devices, whether they’re set up, lost, etc. So we felt able to help by providing a really simple solution that helps small businesses stay focused on running their business,” Prescott says.
The program includes a few elements. For starters, it makes it easy for small businesses to enroll new devices, including installing a set of business apps. You can organize your setup with a basic set of apps that every device in the company will get, then you can refine that for each department or group with specific tools for each, such as marketing, sales, etc. choose to organize them.
Users access these apps through a Business Essentials app on their devices. They can have multiple devices and each has the same set of apps. When they double-click or tap the Business Essentials app, they go to a business desktop where they can access their assigned apps. Businesses also have the ability to connect to their single sign-on system, whatever it may be. This approach keeps personal data completely separate when employees bring their own devices while giving employees a familiar set of tools.
Admins also have the ability to force updates when desired (such as a critical security update) and can offer enterprise or BYOD support. The latter comes from an AppleCare+ package for Business Essentials. This includes 24/7 access to Apple Support and an on-site repair in up to four hours, which is pretty high-end service for small businesses.
Each package including the service component includes up to two repair credits, which businesses can use to obtain service without the employee or customer swiping a credit card. Additionally, customers can pool these credits as they are not necessarily associated with the individual account. If the person leaves the company, however, the repair credits are subtracted from the total.
This level of device management is typically only available to much larger enterprises. By giving small businesses access to this program, Apple puts it within the reach of SMBs, helping them free themselves from IT administration tasks, which are usually outside their areas of expertise, allowing them to focus more on other essential business tasks.
Pricing is based on number of devices and amount of storage, starting at $2.99 for a device with 50GB of storage. If you want AppleCare+ with a particular type of subscription, it will cost you a lot more.
It should be noted that the device management component comes at least in part from the acquisition of Fleetsmith in 2020.