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Volume Purchase Program: Operation Modes


The Volume Purchase Program (VPP) makes it easy for organizations to purchase, distribute, and manged their application. Whether your users are on iPhones, iPads, iPods, or macOS devices, you can deploy applications purchased in Volume Purchase Program to these devices. Silverback integrates with the Volume Purchase Program to distribute, revoke and centrally manage your acquired licenses for each of your applications. This guide gives you an overview of the Volume Purchase Program's operating modes when it comes to assigning licenses. 

Operation Methods

The license-base distribution allows organizations to have the full control and ownership of purchased applications and licenses. In general, the Volume Purchase Program supports two method of the license-based distribution methods. A user-based assignment, introduced with iOS 7 and macOS 10.9,  and a device-based assignment that has been introduced with iOS 9 and macOS 10.11 later on. The following chapter will highlight both assignments methods: 

User-Based Assignment:  With the user-based assignment, Silverback invite users through a push notification message. To accept the invitation, users sign in on their devices with a personal Apple ID. The Apple ID is registered with the Volume Purchase Service. Once users agree to the invitation and accept the iTunes Store terms and conditions, they can download assigned apps or apps will be installed silently for supervised devices. To assign apps to users, you’ll need one managed distribution license per user.

Device-Based Assignment: If your organization needs to retain full control over managed devices and content, or if it’s not practical for every user to obtain an Apple ID, you can assign apps directly to devices, based on serial numbers which will eliminate the need for users to enter their Apple ID to install the assigned applications. This ensures to assign apps directly to devices and no invitation prompts will be displayed to users. Anyone using that device has access to the app. To assign apps to devices, you’ll need one managed distribution license per device

Fallback Options

When you will configure the Operation Methods in Silverback, you will notice that in addition to the two methods, two more methods are available. The user preferred and device preferred operation methods are designed as fallback scenario and will ensure the following: 

User Preferred: User preference will try to assign licenses to users first and and if that is not possible, to devices.

Device Preferred: Device Preference will attempt to assign licenses to devices first and if that is not possible, to users.

Plan your Licensing

In general, ensure to plan carefully how to use your Volume Purchase Program licenses. This includes the following: 

  • Buy enough licenses for every Volume Purchase Program App, even for free App Store apps. 
  • Make sure you have equal or more VPP licenses available when you assign Tags.
  • In general calculate more Volume Purchase Programs licenses for Device Based compared to User Based.


Global Setting

  • Open your Silverback Management Console
  • Login as an Administrator
  • Navigate to Admin
  • Select Volume Purchase Program
  • Locate the VPP Operation Mode Option
  • Here you will find 4 different options, as following: 
Option Description
User Preferred  User preference will try to assign licenses to users first and and if that is not possible, to devices.
Device Preferred Device Preference will attempt to assign licenses to devices first and if that is not possible, to users.
Device only The license gets assigned on all iOS 9+ devices only using a device based license.  
User only The license gets assigned on all iOS 7+ device using a user based license.

Individual App Settings

  • Navigate to the App Portal Tab
  • Locate any of your synchronized VPP applications
  • Click the Edit button
  • At the bottom you can change the VPP Operation Mode to a different option if needed

Additional Information

The user missed to accept Apple's VPP invitation. How do I re-invite users to Apple's VPP Program?
Select the enrolled device in the Devices / Managed tab, double click for device details, and scroll to the bottom. Just before the App list section you will find a new VPP section. It provides the user's VPP info and a button to re-invite.

Can I mix device based and user VPP assignments for individual apps? 
Yes, you can. You can even define how an app gets handled between user and device base. See Configuration options above for more information. 

The app installation does not finish - the circling progress indicator loads forever!
Try to connect to a different network or disable and enable the Wi-Fi on your device or disable the Wi-Fi and get the app via 3G/4G/5G mobile operator network.

The app installation takes a long time.
We are experiencing the same effect from time to time. A 70 MB application can take 4-5 minutes long. This behaviour is due to Apple processes or the device connection and cannot be influenced by the system. 

In the Silverback VPP assets I have an entry, where the name of the VPP app is not displayed. Why is that?
This basically means Silverback couldn't import this item into the Silverback App Portal for one of a few reasons. Silverback shows this item in this list because it's a license the customer has purchased. Blank name can mean either the Silverback Queuing service is still importing VPP data from Apple or the VPP app has been un-published by the developer but the customer previously bought licenses. In most case it will help to press Refresh in the Volume Purchase Program section to reinitiate a synchronization. 

What Do i need to be aware of, if a device gets restored from a backup?
If apps are assigned by device and the backup will be restored on a new device, the app will have a little white cloud by it's name and will tell the user that is is unable to install. This is because the license is being tied to the other device where the app was originally assigned to. In this case, the app can be deleted re-assigned to the device, but the user will lose the restored data from the app.