I’ll make a statement that might be unpopular: Apple shouldn’t promote their privacy stance to schools when they aren’t offering a compelling service that schools can sign up for that replaces G-Suite. They’ve built solutions for schools that are siloed off from most of the student information systems without making an identity management system. They’ve created solutions (like Classkit, Apple Business Manager, and Apple School Manager) that don’t 100% replace anything else a school or business has. They’ve simply added more overhead to deploying iPad. Apple proclaiming their stance on privacy while also accepting a 9 billion payment from Google just makes them look hypocritical. If Apple is really concerned about privacy, they need to be building tools to replace what Google offers enterprise and education customers. Let me explain how.
About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.
iCloud is a great service for end-users. It provides seamless access to all of your data across all your devices. I’ve been using Apple services for most of the past decade. I went through the rough transition from .Mac to MobileMe and onto iCloud. For many years, Apple services were not up to par. In 2018, I think they are great. I’m all in on iCloud Drive, I’ve used iCloud email for years, and it’s kept my calendars/contacts in perfect sync for years. It’s tightly integrated with all of Apple’s products.
Do you know what I use at work? G-Suite. Do you know what other schools use? They are using either G-Suite or Exchange 365. Do you know whose services they aren’t using? They aren’t using Apple’s because Apple has barely dabbled with enterprise-wide services. They’ve just got pieces of the puzzle with Apple Business Manager, Apple School Manager, and the Apple Volume Purchase Program. Earlier this year, they even mentioned linking your Apple School Manager accounts with G-Suite and Active Directory, but those references were later removed. I have a first-hand source that says it’s up and running in Texas, though. Every bit of Apple’s strategy is very unlike Apple.
It’s time for Apple to take the training wheels off iCloud and beef up its enterprise strategy. They need to go all in on services and work with businesses who are using iOS and macOS on a complete end to end solution. It could be called iCloud for Work.
iCloud for Work could include hosted email, calendars, and contacts for businesses and schools. This service would be the one login that people would be assigned to when they are hired. They could log into the App Store, redeem apps, use iWork apps, use iCloud Drive to share files (if they implemented shared folders). There is no reason Apple couldn’t launch this service and provide an excellent service (and simply keep using the Apple School Manager name).
There is a big difference between operating a free email service for individuals and one at the enterprise level. For Apple to operate a solution for businesses would require a Service Level Agreement (SLA). A SLA is a contract between the provider and the end-user that defines the level of service expected from the provider. In a nutshell, it means it has to work, or Apple would have to pay. If Apple doesn’t think it could meet SLA demands, it needs to work to resolve this internally. There is just no reason Apple can’t be as reliable as G-Suite for businesses and schools.
Another issue I see Apple running into is precisely why I think they’ve avoided doing a service like this. It allows them to have more “at bats” with customers. If you are a Chromebook school, you are most likely using G-Suite. If you are a Surface tablet school, you are most likely using Exchange 365. If you are an iPad school, you could be using anyone. By not going all in on their services, they’re not losing hardware deals based on the installed base of their enterprise services. Google can lose a Chromebook deal while keeping the school using G-Suite. Apple’s strategy seems to build everything but what I am suggesting is it forces IT departments to manage multiple systems.
It’s time for Apple’s enterprise services to graduate from consumer only and go full force into enterprise email, contacts, calendars, and document management. If you can get businesses using your cloud services, they’ll be hardware customers for many years to come.