Apple MDM industry outlook: M&A on the way

At this stage in the evolution of the Apple device management industry, it appears we are on the edge of a mergers and acquisitions frenzy.

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Apple device management is the beating heart at the center of the mobile hybrid enterprise, and vendors that support Apple’s MDM (mobile device management) platform are investing as they seek to build for future growth. At this stage in the evolution of the Apple device management industry, it appears we are on the edge of an M&A frenzy as players in that space seek to build unique identities designed to foster future growth.

Industry activity is intensifying

Jamf, arguably one of the biggest firms in the Apple MDM business, has been investing deeply in companies and services to extend the tranche of security and device management tools it can provide to its customers. These extend to powerful content monitoring, zero trust, and endpoint management.

Jamf CIO Linh Lam recently noted the acceleration of Apple’s enterprise market status, predicting: “The way the demand is growing and the expectations of younger generations joining the workforce, Apple devices will be the number one endpoint by 2030.” 

More recently, we’ve begun to see entities from outside the Apple device management space begin to seek a way in. VMWare’s $1.17 billion acquisition of AirWatch in 2014 showed what was coming. Ivanti in 2021 purchased MobileIron. More recently, GoTo is in the process of acquiring cloud-based cross-platform device management provider Miradore. And arguably one of the larger illustrations of this kind was Apple’s 2020 acquisition of MDM vendor Fleetsmith, whose solutions have now been rolled inside Apple Business Essentials.

Elsewhere, Hexnode has entered a partnership with Keeper Security; JumpCloud in February acquired MYKI to expand its cloud directory platform; Kandji continues to attract investment capital as it plays its own long game; Addigy is working with Acronis (the latter also works with Jamf); and Mosyle recently closed a $196m funding round and introduced new solutions for enterprise customers.

The irresistible force

This activity has purpose, of course. As enterprises become increasingly digitized, the value of the device management market is expected to reach $28.7 billion by 2027.

To put that figure into context, that’s around four times the existing value, meaning there is huge scope for growth in the space, particularly around Apple devices.

We’ve looked before at the acceleration there, as Mac and iOS together now comprise around 23% of global mobile/PC consumer market share and a higher slice of enterprise/knowledge worker markets. When it comes to the Mac, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa recently predicted Apple will seize 10.7% of the PC market in 2026 as Windows share slips. And, of course, a 2021 Dimensional Research survey found that 85% of IT decision makers say Apple devices are more secure.

With hundreds of millions of PC replacements now in sight as old Windows OS installations expire and companies seek to secure all endpoints against catastrophic business failure, the Apple side of this equation remains a highly attractive target for all these parties (and a few I probably forgot).

Carving out space in these markets means Apple MDM vendors are under some pressure to extend the functionality of the solutions they provide while also defining their own unique market position.

Many hope to achieve this by extending their core products with tools for security, remote support, and collaboration or by specializing in the needs of vertical markets such as education, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Why a wave of acquisitions may be on the way

Of course, with SAP, BlackBerry, Cisco, Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Sophos, SOTI, and others also vying for some or all of the same business, smaller vendors must work hard to develop their own unique offerings. This suggests (at least to my jaded mind) that at some point relatively soon, we will see a wave of mergers and acquisitions as larger entities scoop up some of the smaller firms in a bid to offer more effective cross-platform MDM tools to enterprise customers and secure growth in a challenging market.

What next?

Quite a lot now depends on platform vendors, including Apple. MDM solutions providers live and die through the power of the APIs made available to them, which means that the addition of features and functionality is equally dependent on such system-level support.

All the same, if there’s a seemingly unexplored space that relates to these technologies, it likely extends to remote collaboration and autonomous security solutions.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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