Managing Apple devices can be a chore for small businesses — it takes time to set up each device, and it can be difficult to manage them in the field without being invasive, especially when it comes to “bring your own” devices.
Last year, Apple introduced a new program in beta called Apple Business Essentials designed to help small businesses solve this issue, and today the company announced that it was now open for any legitimate small business to sign up in the U.S.
As Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of enterprise and education marketing put it, small business owners aren’t IT pros and this gives them an easier way to manage Apple devices.
“As these businesses grow, so do the demands on their time. If you have more employees, you’re likely to have more devices. And that can mean time dealing with managing those devices, whether it’s set up, being lost, etc. So we felt like we were in a position to help by providing a really easy solution that helps small businesses stay focused on running their businesses,” Prescott said.
The program includes a few components. For starters, it enables small businesses to easily enroll new devices, including installing a set of business applications. You can organize your setup with a base set of applications that every device in the company will get, and then you can refine that for each department or group with specific tools for each one, such as marketing, sales and so forth, or however you choose to organize them.
Users access these apps via 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 into a business desktop where they can access the apps assigned to them. Businesses also have the option of connecting to their single sign-on system, whatever that happens to be. This approach keeps personal data completely separate when employees are bringing their own devices while giving employees a familiar set of tools.
Admins also have the option of forcing updates when desirable (like an essential security update) and can offer support for company or BYODs. The latter comes from an accompanying AppleCare+ for Business Essentials package. That includes 24/7 access to Apple support and onsite repair in up to four hours, which is a pretty high-end service for small businesses.
Each package that includes the service component comes with up to two repair credits, which companies can use to get service without having the employee or the customer swipe a credit card. What’s more, customers can pool these credits as they aren’t necessarily associated with the individual account. If the person leaves the company, however, repair credits get subtracted from the total.
This level of device management is typically only available for much larger businesses. By giving smaller businesses access to this program, Apple is putting it within reach of SMBs, helping to free them up from IT administration chores, which are typically outside their areas of expertise, allowing them to concentrate more on other essential business tasks.
Pricing is based on the number of devices and amount of storage, starting at $2.99 for one device with 50 GB of storage. If you want AppleCare+ along with a particular subscription type, that will cost you substantially more.
It’s worth noting that the device management component came at least in part from the Fleetsmith acquisition in 2020.