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Apple adds another subscription product, this time for companies

Tim Cook at WWDC21 on June 7th, 2021.
Source: Apple

Apple on Thursday released a new program for businesses to set up, manage and install software on worker iPhones, iPads and Macs.

The product, called Business Essentials, ranges from $2.99 per month to $24.99 per month per worker. It allows a boss or a system administrator to install corporate apps, set passcode policies, track or shut down a lost phone or laptop and provide access to cloud storage. In the more expensive tiers, users are given AppleCare credits so they can get repairs from Apple stores.

Apple is continuing to offer more services that include a recurring billing subscription as it shifts away from a reliance on devices. Services are a focus for Apple investors, who value the stability and predictability of recurring revenue, preferring it to the seasonality of hardware sales.

Apple’s services business grew 27% in 2021 to $68.4 billion as the company introduced subscriptions like Fitness+, which gives users access to a library of video workouts.

The new product is also a sign of Apple’s increasing emphasis on corporate sales and products that help businesses navigate hybrid work environments. Historically, although Apple has sold to enterprises, it has focused development and marketing on consumer products.

The appeal of the enterprise market is clear: Google and Microsoft make a lot of money by selling tools and software to businesses and schools. However, Business Essentials isn’t a direct rival to their products, as it manages Apple devices.

Apple said on Thursday that Business Essentials is integrated with Microsoft Azure and Google Workspace systems so that workers will be able to log on to their devices with logins managed by those companies.

The product is a competitor to Jamf and Kanji, which make software called mobile device management that lets businesses manage a fleet of Apple phones and computers. Apple says Business Essentials is targeted at smaller customers, primarily those without dedicated IT departments.

Although the product doesn’t currently limit how many users it supports, Apple said it’s designed for businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

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