AppCentral – a startup based in San Francisco – has released a new incarnation of its platform for operating private mobile app stores within the enterprise. Version 2.0 of the platform can be used with both Apple iOS and Google Android devices.
Apple and Steve Jobs forbid iPhone and iPad users from purchasing, downloading, or installing consumer apps from anywhere other than its iOS App Store. But through its iOS Developer Enterprise Program, companies are allowed to distribute business applications to employees if the apps are signed with a digital signature issued by Apple. With AppCentral 2.0, businesses can set up mobile app stores for managing the distribution, use, upkeep, and security of these iOS applications as well as applications built for Google Android devices.
Under Apple's official rules, businesses can distribute enterprise iOS apps via a local connection to iTunes, have IT administrators install apps directly via the iPhone Configuration Utility, or post the app to a secure web server so that users can download them wirelessly. But AppCentral expands on this program, letting users run their own app stores that operate much like the Apple original.
"[Apple] has made the rules so onerous [for enterprise app distributors]," AppCentral CEO Ken Singer told us, "you need something just to keep track of things." All of Apple's enterprise app certificates, for instance, expire after a year.
Speaking with The Register at our San Francisco offices on Monday, AppCentral was reluctant to provide details about its relationship with Apple. But the company did say that Apple has given its blessing to the platform, and it indicated that either Apple or Google had recommended one of its first major customers.
AppCentral offers its eponymous platform as a internet service. But you can also install it on your own servers. And if you install it on your own servers, you too can serve it up as a service. Trust us. This makes sense.
However you use it, the platform is itself accessed from an iOS or Android application, and in addition to managing distribution of apps, it handles app security and administration. It can, for instance, wipe apps and data from a device if it is lost or an employee leaves the company, and it handles over-the-air updates. Pricing, the company tells us, ranges from $2 to $4 per end user.
AppCentral the platform was always known as AppCentral. But AppCentral the company was previously known as Ondeego. Trust us. This makes sense too. But the company has overhauled not only its enterprise app store platform, but revamped its image as well. ®