Apple has acquired device-management startup Fleetsmith. The technology and personnel that will join Apple as part of the acquisition could help Apple expand upon device enrollment and introduce better ways to set up new devices like iPads and Macs within organizations.
Fleetsmith’s proposition to customers (and Apple) seems perfectly tailored to our times: the company offers a way for organizations to equip remote workers’ (or workers otherwise not located in the central office) devices and have those devices automatically registered and set up for enterprise use as soon as they’re first turned on. After that, Fleetsmith automatically ensures devices get needed software updates. It also provides IT managers with a dashboard for managing the fleet.
If you’ve used Jamf, a more widespread competitor, you get the general idea. But Fleetsmith already had a special focus on Apple devices, it has an Apple-like design sensibility, and it was likely a much cheaper option for Apple than Jamf, to boot. Jamf appears to be on a different path, with a $3 billion IPO planned.
Speaking of money, though, neither Apple nor Fleetsmith has revealed the purchase price. Fleetsmith did publish a blog post about the acquisition, though. Here’s some of what it says:
We started Fleetsmith to balance the management and security needs of IT with the experience users love about Mac, iPad, and iPhone. We’re proud of the incredibly talented team we’ve built, and that we’ve stayed true to our mission: to make powerful, secure Apple fleet management available to everyone.
We’re thrilled to join Apple. Our shared values of putting the customer at the center of everything we do without sacrificing privacy and security, means we can truly meet our mission, delivering Fleetsmith to businesses and institutions of all sizes, around the world.
The post also notes that Fleetsmith will continue to serve both new and existing customers, so this is not an acquisition purely of intellectual property or human capital. It seems like Fleetsmith as we know it will continue operating.
It’s unlikely that Apple will stop working with Jamf in the near future, but with this acquisition of Fleetsmith, Cupertino clearly has some special plans for its own in-house device management strategy. We’ll just have to wait and see what they are.