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Apple Continues Pursuit Of IT And Education With Improvements To Its ‘Secret’ Loyalty Pricing

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If you’re unfamiliar with Apple’s Loyalty Program, we’ll forgive you. It’s not all that well publicized and for pretty good reason. It only kicks in if you’re the kind of person who spends more than $5,000 in a 12-month period with Apple.

That kind of “person” is typically easier to define as an organization — namely IT departments of companies or education customers. Though the low entry point means that those companies don’t necessarily have to be all that large. The loyalty program has been around for years, but benefits big-spending companies and schools that need large quantities of items the most.

Late last week, Apple quietly updated the program with several improvements that should drive more sales to organizations.

There are three tiers to the discount program, starting at $5K in a 12-month period — also known as the red tier. Next up is the $35K green tier, followed by the lesser-known $200K blue tier.

With last week’s changes, Apple has improved the discounts of several items across all of these tiers. Almost all of the discounts have been improved a couple of percentage points. We’re hearing, for instance, that Mac has gone from 5 percent to 6 percent in the lower tier and as much as 8 percent at the higher tier.

Third-party accessory discounts have gone from 5 percent to 10 percent on the low tier and higher on the upper tiers — though these discounts exclude certain items from sellers like Jawbone and Beats.

iPads continue to be discounted roughly 2-4 percent based on model and quantity broken down by ranges up to 50.

In addition, Apple has added unlocked iPhones to the mix — the first time the device has made an appearance in the program. We haven’t been able to determine the exact discounts for the iPhones with this update, but it’s probably safe to assume they’ll be a variable amount, as with iPads.

Speaking of iPads, there’s actually a special iPad campaign going on right now, with big discounts (larger than the typical 2-4 percent) for 50 units and over. Organizations can speak to an Apple Retail Business Team member at a store or on the phone to arrange for these discounts.

Another new item has been added to the loyalty program for the first time ever, as well: Apple TV. While this might not jump out at you as a huge addition, it’s actually quite a popular option for schools and businesses looking to add presentation capabilities to conference and class rooms that tie in well with iPads. An iPad AirPlay-ing to an Apple TV is a much easier sell than the nightmare of dongles and driver settings that normally accompany projectors.

“The AppleTV’s stronghold has been the living room, but with technology like AirPlay, it’s finding its way in conference rooms and classrooms more and more,” says Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels, who has quite a bit of experience with Apple TV deployments in IT. “While iOS’ AirPlay has been around for a bit, OS X’s ability to use an Apple TV as an external display lets people share data on a TV or projector easily, without dealing with a bunch of cables and video adapters.”

Adding the Apple TV to a program specifically designed to benefit “bulk” buyers speaks to Apple listening to its customers in these fields.

These changes dovetail with expansions Apple made last week to its deployment and management tools for iOS devices. Those tools were clearly an answer to requests that IT departments and schools had been making of Apple for years. The enhancements included the addition of “zero touch” setup and the locking of security profiles to devices — both things that will make the lives of those in charge of educational iPad rollouts much easier.

When coupled with additional discounts and program additions, it all adds up to Apple paying more attention to IT pros — and making more efforts to attract and cater to them.