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How to distribute iOS apps: an ultimate guide for B2B and B2C apps

Maryna Cherednychenko - July 29, 2020 - 1 comment

It is half the journey to make an app. The further step is to think about how to present it to the user. In this regard, it is necessary to find an appropriate distribution channel. Obviously, you cannot buy groceries from a clothing store and vice versa. This is also the case with mobile software. You are not allowed to upload any possible app to the official App Store. Depending on the application type and target audience, you will have to choose an appropriate delivery method. This post will consider different kinds of mobile apps and how you can bring them to users.

Types of mobile apps depending on the target audience

There are two types of apps: developed for everyday users and other businesses. Let’s see how they differ.

B2C apps

B2C apps are intent on a vast audience. Anyone can get them through popular channels. There are many B2C apps in the app store. The most common are:

Loyalty and reward apps. Such services offer different perks to their users. For example, you can pay through the app without digging for your wallet or get an exclusive bonus for users. Loyalty apps provide benefits for both customers and businesses. The former receive lucrative offers, while the latter retain buyers and motivate them to new purchases.

eCommerce apps. If you are a retailer who offers an online store, then your app belongs to the B2C category. Such mobile shops are essential in the era of mobile phones. Customers can browse the catalog and make purchases at any time: while in public transport or the queue. Thus, the store turns to a high performing machine that generates income 24/7.

Standalone apps. Such apps are the businesses themselves. Under this category fall games, social networks, fitness apps, and other solutions that are not a continuation of the offline enterprise. The main challenge in developing a standalone solution is to earn user loyalty. You will have to invest in marketing to promote your app.

B2B apps

Such apps are specific services designed for the small user community. Typically, they serve in-house needs or are designed for corporate clients. Such apps aim to

  • optimize workflow
  • enhance productivity
  • improve business processes
  • facilitate communication
  • digitize document flow
  • cover other enterprise needs

The users of B2B apps are company personnel, clients, and business partners. The apps can be reached through public or private channels.

Public channels usually cover a company website or the app store. The users can download the app and access it by entering the login.

Private channels allow you to distribute the app via an internal portal or URL. Thus, the app is only available to selected users.


Types of mobile apps by target audience

Types of mobile apps by target audience

How to distribute iOS apps?

App distribution methods serve different purposes and differ in how

  • a binary file is hosted
  • app is enrolled
  • confirmation is going

Typically, one distribution way suits a particular app. See a summary of the methods in the table below. Next, we’ll look at each of them in more detail.

iOS distribution

Binary file hosting

App enrollment


App Store Public app store Free access to apps for all phones and other devices with the Apple ID. Required, strict
Ad Hoc Manual entry, TestFlight, third-party MDM It is necessary to manually enter each device’s UDID before app installation. Not required
Enterprise Program Manual entry, third-party MDM Registration is not required. The app runs on any device within the company. However, it is not allowed to use it outside. Not required
Volume Purchase Program Native or third-party MDM  The app is distributed through the native iOS B2B store Required, flexible

App Store

The easiest way to deliver an app is to upload it to the app store. It is the official shop used by all users who own Apple devices. To publish to the store, the developer needs a paid developer account, Xcode development environment, and app source code to publish the app.

Before publishing, the app should go through certification to make sure it meets App Store guidelines. The process involves testing your app by an Apple representative. Among other things, the technician will check how the app behaves under different conditions. So, make sure it runs smoothly on any device with any Internet connection. Your app should be a bug, spam, and crash-free; otherwise, it won’t be allowed in the store.

Currently, it takes up to three days to review the app. After the approval, you will have to wait 24 hours more until it appears in the App Store. Nevertheless, there were cases when the developers had been waiting for several days or even months until they received confirmation.


Distributing an app through app store

Distributing an app through app store


Things to consider:

  • It is necessary to sign up for the Apple Developer Account which costs $99 a year
  • The app must be perfectly polished and meet Apple’s demands
  • You should provide a comprehensive app description with pictures, videos, and easy-to-follow content
  • Once Apple approves the app, you’ll get an enormous base of potential customers


The Ad-Hoc method allows you to send an app to selected users without publishing it in the public store. It is a common way to conduct beta testing or deliver apps to a restricted number of users. Let’s see how the process goes.

The Ad-Hoc method allows you to send an app to selected users while it is not available in the public store. This method is often used for beta testing or app distribution among a limited number of users. Let’s see how it works.

  1. The developer adds UDIDs of selected devices to Apple Member Center. It is allowed to keep up to 100 UDIDs for each type of device (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch).
  2. The developer unloads the app via Xcode special option.
  3. End-users receive the app by email or any sharing service – Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. – where the developer leaves a downloadable link. It is also possible to deliver it using any MDM system.
  4. If the user’s phone has a UDID that is not on the list – the app won’t run on the phone.



Choosing Ad-Hoc deployment


Things to consider:

  • You should register in Apple Developer Account and pay a yearly fee of $99
  • You are limited in the number of devices where you can distribute the app
  • Each time you add a new device ID, you should rebuild the app
  • When a year subscription is over, you must rebuild the app again

Enterprise program

It is a win-win solution for small and mid-sized companies that want to distribute an app for corporate needs. The main difference from the previous method is that you avoid the headache of manual entering the devices’ UDIDs. The developer unloads the app from Xcode in a particular way. It lets users install it without visiting the app store or registering the device.

As well as with the Ad-Hoc method, the app can be distributed via email, URL, or MDM. The latter allows the developer to upload the binary file and request the devices connected with MDM to install the app. It is a fast and straightforward procedure that is done remotely via the web administration console.

Here is a list of the most popular MDM services that support iOS apps:


iOS enterprise-in-house program

Opting for Enterprise program


Things to consider:

  • You should register in Apple Enterprise Developer Account and pay $299 per year
  • Your organization must have 100-plus staff members and be a legal person
  • It is allowed to use as many devices as you like, but all of them should belong to the enterprise
  • The app should serve for in-house needs only

Volume Purchase Program

This method allows you to distribute an app through the native iOS app store for corporate clients. While the public app store shares apps with everyone interested, the B2B store only lets business partners and enterprise employees in. 

If you compare it with the Apple enterprise program, the latter has fewer opportunities since it’s designed for in-house needs only. The Volume Purchase Program allows you to distribute apps among employees and business clients. Moreover, you can share not only your apps but the external services needed for your organization. For that, you should buy a license and distribute the app to selected users in bulk. You can also share work-related books with your staff, which is much more convenient than asking each employee to download a specific book individually.

Last but not least, Apple provides you with authorized point-of-sale to distribute your app. You can use either a third-party MDM tool or a native iOS service – Apple Configurator 2 – to push the app to the private store.


iOS B2B-vpp-development

Enrolling to Volume Purchase Program


Things to consider:

  • The program is available in selected countries only
  • You should get approval to distribute the app. The procedure is less strict compared to the public store, though.
  • Apple provides you with an official private store to publish your business app.

Outsource your project

App distribution is a logical follow-up of the development process. The team of developers ensures the software meets Apple’s requirements and runs properly. At Softensy, we carry out a full cycle of web and mobile development. We start with research and planning and end with delivery and maintenance.

If a client contacts us with a semi-finished project, the study step may take a little longer. Anyhow, we discuss all the details with the client and approve the distribution method in advance. If you are unsure which way to choose or want to entrust someone with the app distribution, contact us. We have extensive experience in iOS development, delivery, and support and will be glad to help you at any stage of project implementation.

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1 comment

  1. very informative article post. much thanks again

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