How to Develop a Custom B2B Application for iOS?

iOS platform reserves growing market opportunities for startups and enterprises. Big business is still the niche to hit the headlines. For this reason, business-to-business mobile application development continues to be the moving force for corporations that feature a growing usage of iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices they offer to their stuff.

Once you are interested in building custom b2b apps for iOS, you need to think of several scenarios. They are actually typical for any kind of application with some slight differences (like app distribution). Major scenarios for developing custom b2b apps for iOS may include:

  • Free applications;
  • Buy-once products;
  • Apps featuring in-app;
  • Apps for internal corporate use;
  • Apps developed by dev teams for clients’ enterprises.

For startups eager to generate revenues from their products, all the above-mentioned scenarios are appropriate with the exception of the first one. At the same time, you may find some programs developed by Apple to put an ease on iOS app distribution.

We will review some of them in the given article. They will include methods to distribute and create custom business-to-business app as well as products released in public app stores. The difference is significant.

Main Steps of Business-to-Business Mobile App Development

Developing custom b2b iOS applications has not always been the major trend. Dev teams and startups delivered mainly products for gaming and entertainment. The evolving business world made it possible for the mobility to acquire some new dimensions. Those dimensions embrace mobile devices to increase the level of productivity and boost work among the stuff.

The trends are changing. Creating frivolous apps for mass consumption is no longer a prior goal. Startups are aimed and developing some more complex products for enterprises and corporations for smarter employees.

The B2B landscape is coming to age today along with mobility. In other words, b2b app development is a good idea to start with. First of all, you need to set clear targets and define the main purposes. It will let you decide what type of application you want to build.

B2B App to Boost Productivity

Mobility is certainly the tool to increase the level of employees productivity. We are witnessing the rise of healthcare apps that let clinicians deliver a higher quality of services to their patients. There is a range of logistic apps that track drivers’ location and keep in touch with vital parameters like fuel.

Apps boost the productivity of companies that deal in the field of travelling like airports, for example. Employees are able to access necessary data over the Wi-Fi or cellular network anytime.

B2B Apps for Business

Startups can develop applications for their own business. A growing competition results in the need of competitive advantages. Mobile technologies and applications, in particular, may provide desired technological advances to make the operation process more functional and effective.

The only way to stay in the flow is to evolve. Otherwise, you will inevitably be left behind the technology curve. Enterprise mobility is a new popular trend. And you have nothing to do but to deal with it and accept the rules.

App Store Distribution

B2B application development process hardly differs from any other type of product you need to build. The steps are typically as follows:

  • Discovery – you need to define your target audience and think of features they will benefit. You need to decide whether your app is to boost productivity or you want to come up with an effective monitoring service for employees. Set up clear goals and do some marketing research;
  • Building MVP – prototyping will let you realize the efficiency of your future app as well as its main drawbacks for the corporation. Do not rush to implement a flashy design overloaded with animation and other features. The simpler the better when it comes to B2B application;
  • Development – now you can start developing your app. This is where you need to implement all major features as well as some extras considering the feedback you generate after running the MVP version;
  • Testing – a general stage to make sure your product runs properly. Note, that you need to check your app on various devices including iPod touches, iPads, and iPhones. All of them are available for corporate use in many companies;
  • App Distribution – this is where you have to think twice.

Public App Store Method

You can choose from several ways of distributing your app. The first and most common one is using the public app store. This method has several obvious advantages, as provides a global access to your app.

Any user with Apple ID can find it and download. Moreover, you will hardly face any difficulties when monetizing your app. All you need is to set the price or implement in-app purchases. iAd network may also come in handy when generating revenue.

However, the public marketplace has some drawbacks for developers in particular. It may take too long for approval. You need to wait a lot until you receive your first feedback after submission. The approval process can be rather painful for dev teams and startups.

Nevertheless, it is still a great method if you expect your app to be visible and easily found by potential users. If those points are of no importance, you can choose another way.

Ad-Hoc Distribution Method

Many iOS developers have certainly come across the Ad-Hoc method. It is the best bet for those looking for a small temporary deployment or want to share beta version in private. This method differs from the public app store, as here the developer is the one to take responsibility when delivering application binary to any mobile device.

The binary may be an email containing URL. It should be noted, that it will not work on each device. The application will run only on those devices with added UDID. Moreover, registration in the Apple Member Center is required. Otherwise, iOS will not allow the binary installation.

Enterprise Deployment Method

This optional method appeared not so long ago. It resulted in the enterprises’ need to build corporate applications and deliver them to employees. This method does not require any UDIDs or registrations of every particular device in your company.

All you need is to register the product and export it from Xcode. This is how you can deliver and install the app to any device without actually registering it on the app store. Moreover, there is no need to publish the product on the app store. The distribution can be handled via MDM services or using URLs in emails as well as in Ad-Hoc method. SimpleMDM is a good example of such cloud-based MDM service.

VPP Deployment Method

Have you ever dreamt of having your private app store? That would be a great solution to all your problems! Apple VPP actually allows you creating it. You are free to make application binaries for any device. Just do not forget to add those devices to a program.

VPP lets you share your applications with other businesses. Please, note that approval here is required. Otherwise, the application cannot be seen in the VPP program. However, it is much easier to get the approval if compared with the public app store. Moreover, it is less time-consuming and more flexible.

When using VPP, developers are not in charge of the distribution process. It is handled mainly by the program, which operates in conjunction with MDM services. However, you can add invitations using your admin panel.

How Much Does B2B Mobile App Development Cost?

It depends on the app complexity. Let’s say, you are planning to build a basic product featuring a list of only crucial features. In this case, it will take about 200 hours in general to build the application:

  • Defining goals and building MVP – 16 hours;
  • UX/UI Design – 64;
  • Development – 80 hours;
  • QA Engineering – 24 hours;
  • Deployment – 16 hours.

Considering the average hourly rate of $100 per hour, the cost of a basic app is about $20 000. If you want to develop a more complex product, it may take developers up to 800 hours. In this case, the price will go up to $80 000.

The price will also depend on the rates established by a chosen dev team. If you opt for an in-house company, the project will cost you more if compared with outsource contractor. Moreover, the rates may vary according to the region of a freelance developer. Local team usually charge more if compared with developers from Eastern Europe and Asia.

Final Thought

Now you have an understanding of ways how to develop and distribute your b2b app in addition to available programs and tools. Startups may find it difficult to handle all process without professional assistance, especially if they have never dealt with business applications before.

Our team of professional developers is ready to handle all stages of the building process. Not only we will create a product for you but also help to release your app and ensure its smooth operation on various iOS devices.