Apple certainly showed that it's still in business and isn't going anywhere during this year's keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference. In a presentation lasting more than two hours, Apple execs gave developers -- and everyone tuned in to the live webcast -- clear signs that the company intends to remain a major player in technology for years to come.
Consumers and business users alike will find things to love about OS X Mavericks and iOS 7. Road warriors will like the amazing battery life -- 12 hours for the 13-in. model -- promised by the newest MacBook Air laptops. And hardcore power users are salivating over the forthcoming -- and completely unconventional, even by Apple standards -- Mac Pro. Even iCloud seems to have several promising prospects on the horizon as Apple offers to sync all your security credentials and credit card data across devices and join Google and Microsoft in the cloud productivity market with iWork for iCloud.
For enterprise IT pros, however, the announcements represented more of a mixed bag. Apple barely mentioned enterprise or even business features, though it managed to subtly announce several big features that have been on the IT wish list by including them on some of the keynote slides. In other cases, some of the features Apple highlighted as great for consumers should raise red flags in the minds of CIOs, security specialists and other IT professionals.
What IT will love
Activation Lock -- Activation Lock is a powerful security tool and potential theft deterrent for both consumers and business users. Even though this isn't a specifically enterprise-oriented feature, it will ease many of IT's bring-your-own-device (BYOD) concerns, particularly when paired with complex passcode rules and remote wipe capability. Apple could even extend that capability further by creating an enterprise-enabled version of Lost Mode that would require users' enterprise credentials in addition to their Apple ID to reactivate a lost or stolen device.
App Store Volume Purchasing -- One of the biggest complaints that businesses and schools have about iOS is the lack of true volume licensing options. The company's current Volume Purchase Program leaves a lot to be desired. Because it's based around the same redemption code system that powers iTunes gift cards, the current system ties a company-purchased app to an employee's iTunes account. When a code is used, the app -- and the license to run it -- are assigned to the employee and can't be reclaimed when he or she leaves the company. It seems likely that Apple, having heard complaints about this process for years, will move toward a more traditional licensing method. Organizations will still need to purchase the licenses in bulk and deploy the apps, but a license model would allow them to revoke the license for an app when a user leaves the organization and reuse it. Whether the process would delete the app completely or simply encourage the user to buy a personal license isn't clear. I'd put money on the latter.