Apple introduces Business Essentials service for SMBs

Apple today took an important step in providing business technology, introducing a new service called Apple Business Essentials – still adding another strong argument to support the business implementation of your products.

What is Apple Business Essentials?

The service combines a variety of services for small and medium-sized businesses within an Apple-compatible MDM management tool. It is aimed at companies with up to 500 employees.

Apple Business Essentials is available now in beta and will be released for real in Spring 2022. Provides tools including iCloud + for Work, AppleCare, 24/7 Apple support, application and device management, and automated setup through Collections and Groups smart.

Apple said the service will be available in the United States initially, with prices ranging from $ 2.99 per month per user to $ 12.99 per month per user, depending on the number of devices and storage tiers. (More information below).

The company also introduced a new Apple Business Essentials app that employees can use to install work-assigned apps and request support.

Apple Business Essentials promises easy setup, integration, backup, security, support, repairs and updates, and 24/7 technical support.

With a nod to remote working, Apple’s support component is flexible, meaning that if you’re an employee working remotely from home, you’ll be covered too. And if a technical support visit is required, the engineer will be dispatched to your home within four hours. In other words, an SME can outsource at least part of its technical support provision using the service.

Additionally, Apple’s new service can be used with existing MDM solutions, although the company believes its service will be more valuable to companies that have new mobile management options. The idea is that Apple Business Essentials makes it easy to both manage Apple devices and use them.

Why is this important?

Think back 10 years, to the introduction of the original iPad, when Apple was a small fish in the corporate sea. Some creative professionals may be using Macs (and executives using iPhones), but the company’s entrepreneurial position was limited.

That changed with the iPad, when C-class executives rushed to buy this new tablet. In doing so, attitudes about Bring Your Own Device policies also changed, and employees were empowered to use the technology they depend on at home and at work.

[Also read: SAP VP Martin Lang touts Apple, M1 Macs and the mobile enterprise]

Today, when given a choice, most employees will choose an Apple product, and Macs experience a particular renaissance in the back of the box. gorgeous M-series processors that Apple has made.

Discussing the importance of Apple Business Essentials, Carolina Milanesi, president and principal analyst at Creative Strategies, said:

“As a longtime Apple ‘watcher’, you know very well that Apple has been very shy about how they address business needs. They have always preferred to be seen as providers of the technology to the user rather than providing it to the IT manager. Since the launch of the M1, I’ve been arguing that Apple’s biggest opportunity to increase its share of the PC market lies with the company. The product has proven to be not only desirable, but also capable of addressing business needs, and moving from the BYOD or backdoor approach to IT implementation will allow Apple to increase its share more quickly. I think this is why the announcement is timely and meaningful. “

The measure reflects the extent to which Apple has staked space in the company and represents the company’s efforts to rapidly expand in the sector.

Milanesi also said that the move may challenge others already in the space, but said that “there are still opportunities in the market if companies want to differentiate themselves by supporting Mac and Windows.”

The analyst also noted that PC-centric companies like Dell, Lenovo or HP that have been working to support business customers may be challenged as they “always struggle to support Mac in the same way.”

Apple’s message

In her introductory statement for the new service, Apple Vice President of Business and Education Marketing Susan Prescott said:

“Small businesses are at the center of our economy and we are proud that Apple products help these businesses grow.

“Apple Business Essentials is designed to help streamline every step of employee device management within a small business, from setup, onboarding, and upgrade to access to prompt service and priority support, all while maintaining data backed up and secure, so companies can focus on running their business. “

What do companies get?

With everything managed in a single console, SMBs get:

  • Collections;
  • Device and user management;
  • iCloud for work storage;
  • AppleCare + for Business Essentials (optional).

The console provides an instant view of monthly costs and can manage individual devices, so Apple TV can also be kept in a conference room.

What are the collections?

Apple has thought about what happens when you introduce a new employee to your organization. The Collections feature allows IT to configure settings and applications for individual users, groups, or devices. You may want to install a specific application on all the hardware used by the accounting team, for example. Collections allows you to define roles, assign permissions, and more. It also provides IT with an easy-to-read account of the current status of application licenses, so administrators can know when they may need to revoke or purchase new licenses for corporate teams.

What user and device management features are included?

Apple Business Essentials also automates services and permissions, and you can configure an employee’s personal device to safely, and especially privately, carry work-related data. It does this through the support of two Apple IDs on the device: the Managed ID and the Employee’s own. This is created during user enrollment, when cryptographic separation is entered for job data. This helps ensure that employee data remains private, while company data remains secure.

Apple Business Essentials Apple

Apple Business Esssentials is now in beta and will be fully released in 2022.

In use, that means that when employees log into their corporate or personal-owned device with their work credentials, the collections automatically push settings like VPN settings and Wi-Fi passwords. It will also install the Apple Business Essentials application, through which employees can download and install key business applications, such as Cisco Webex or Microsoft Word, recently enhanced.

Apple also said the service allows IT administrators to enforce critical security settings like FileVault for full disk encryption on Mac and Activation Lock to protect devices that can be lost or stolen.

What is iCloud for work?

I evangelized about the need for Apple to introduce iCloud for Business a few weeks ago. The company has now done just that.

Apple Business Essentials provides a dedicated iCloud account for work that works like any other iCloud deployment. Business data in iCloud is automatically stored and backed up, making it easy to transfer between devices or upgrade to a new device, and you can choose how much data you want to provide to employees.

Employees continue to retain separate access to their own iCloud data, allowing separation between personal and work-related use.

AppleCare + for Business Essentials

We don’t know yet how much this feature will cost, but Apple is also promising an optional extra in the form of AppleCare + for Business Essentials. Companies that sign up for this will be able to offer staff 24/7 phone support, receive training for both IT administrators and employees, and cover up to two device repairs per plan each year.

(The great thing about the latter is that they can be applied on any user / device covered by an Apple business plan, so the cumulative impact is that accident-prone employees must be assisted.)

Employees can initiate repairs from the app, and Apple-trained technicians will be on site in as little as four hours to get the devices back up and running. If your employee is at a distance, the technician will visit him where he is.

How does it feel to use it?

At this stage, I have only played with Apple Business Essentials, but it is clearly an Apple product. That means a clear, column-based user interface, a clean layout that eliminates what’s not needed, and view-oriented use of icons and categories to help you find what you need.

Collections, for example, are easy to create, complete, and distribute, while more granular tasks, such as users, user groups, or device management, are also easy to access and explore.

But for many, the Settings section will be especially useful.

Apple seems to have given this a lot of thought, bundling standard items like passcode policy management and Wi-Fi settings with increasingly important controls like Power Saving Settings.

While it may not be clear at first why to ensure that all devices follow company policy for power consumption, if you stop to consider the energy costs of running systems for up to 500 employees, the advantage of Such controls becomes much clearer. And they should probably be considered vitally important like us break into the climate crisis.

How much is it?

Apple Business Essentials is available as a free beta version starting today in the US.

Once out of beta, Apple said the service will cost $ 2.99 per user / month to handle a single device with 50GB of storage, scaling up to $ 12.99 / user / month for up to three devices per user and up to 2TB of storage. .

Those prices don’t yet include the cost of AppleCare + for Business Essentials, and the company doesn’t charge beta users. But he didn’t want the charges to come as a surprise to anyone once the service was launched.

How do you join the beta program?

The service will be fully available in spring 2022. For join beta registration here.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic Bar and Grill and Apple Discussions groups in MeWe.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Leave a Comment