A Beginner’s Guide to Distribution of B2B Apps

While building the app itself is a crucial part of the job, making it accessible and distributing it to the end-users is the next challenge. Both Apple and Android platforms offer many distribution methods. This article breaks down the different distribution options available in both iOS and Android.
Application develoement
Product Engineering

By Kavya Gogineni

Chaos Engineering - Product Resilience - Techigai

B2B applications are hot commodity ever since the pandemic and several enterprises are eyeing on creating diverse applications to captivate the market. In short, it is a must for every business to understand importance of B2B apps to make them easy to deploy. Now that we have covered the beginners guide of B2B apps , let’s delve deeper into the next part, which is the distribution of these apps on various platforms.

Distribution of B2B Apps in iOS 

Apple offers multiple distribution methods each with a specific purpose and restrictions

When it comes to the distribution of iOS apps, things can get a tad bit complicated. Mainly the distribution methods are classified as follows:

  • Public Distribution :
    Apps are available for download directly from the App store. No restrictions can be laid for download, and anyone can download the app.
  • Private Distribution :
    These apps are directly marketed and sold to businesses rather than listing on the App store.

1. App Store Distribution

  • This is the most common way of distributing iOS apps. The app is directly published on the App store and is publicly available for download.
  • However, this is not ideal for distributing white-labeled B2B solutions as the Apple Platform has very stringent guidelines for public app distribution.
  • For example, if two applications with the same functionality and UI but different names and Logos are to be deployed, Apple tags it as spam and rejects it.
  • The only workaround for this is having one app deployed in the app store and then differentiating multiple enterprises at the login level.

Example: The app is deployed in the public app store. One set of user groups belonging to one organization have to log in using a specific code to access data related to their enterprise-level data and another user group uses a different code to access data related to them.

2. Apple Business Manager

This type of distribution method is used when one is developing an app for a specific business. Apple Business manager allows businesses to have a private app store of their own.

For this type of distribution, two programs are required

  1. Apple Developer Program: for the developer
  2. Apple business manager: for the target organization

The developer of the application must be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program. Once the app is ready, they upload the file in App Store Connect and select private distribution and submit it to Apple for review. Once the app is reviewed and approved by Apple, it will be available for purchase for businesses identified in the App Store Connect.

Now the target organization can purchase from their Apple Business manager account and distribute it internally using MDM (Mobile Device Management) or redemption codes.

3. Enterprise Developer Program

It allows businesses to develop and distribute apps directly to their employees within the organization. It should be noted that this method is strictly for internal distribution only. The app should be developed by the company itself. i.e., they must have access to the IPA file.

(Refer to Apple Developer Enterprise Program for more details).

4. Ad-hoc Distribution

  • This distribution is similar to the enterprise developer program, but it doesn’t have the eligibility criteria that the Enterprise Developer Program has.
  • This method is ideal for developers who wish to share an app for private beta or small temporary distribution. Ad-Hoc distribution will allow businesses to distribute apps directly to up to 100 devices that are registered to the Apple Developer Program membership.

Distribution of B2B Apps in Android

Android has easier ways to distribute apps. The easiest way is to publish through the Play Store & anyone in the world can access it.

1. Play Store Distribution

  • Just like the App Store listing, the app is published on the google play store and is available for the public.
  • Unlike Apple, Android doesn’t have many restrictions for white-labeled app distribution.

2. Via Website and Email

  • Android apps can be distributed via website or email as well. This is done by making the APK file available for download and sharing it via email or website.
  • While this is a very easy way to distribute apps, it might not attract a wide user base as they tend to question the authenticity of the app.

3. Managed Google Play

  • Managed google play is a private marketplace for the distribution of android applications. This helps organizations distribute internal apps within the organization without giving access to outsiders.
  • Managed google play also provides a facility to distribute private apps to other organizations. This can be easily done by getting the target organization’s ID and adding to the target distribution list.

Final Thoughts

When selecting a distribution method, the first question one needs to ask is whether the app is intended for the public or for a specific set of people.

Based on that, businesses can choose either public distribution or private distribution. Both iOS and Android support Public and private distribution methods. However, as compared to iOS, B2B applications can be distributed relatively easily in Android.

Furthermore, the target audience – end users being enterprises or individual consumers, the revenue model that is envisioned, the budgets at disposal, timeline available, and ease of distribution needed – all these put together can form a robust strategy while choosing the distribution channels for B2B or B2C applications.

Need help in designing, engineering or rolling out complex B2B or B2C applications? Talk to our team of product engineering experts today!

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.

Seth Godin

Published Date: 31 January, 2022


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