Apple to Shutter Fleetsmith as device management rivals see openness

After Apple recently announced that it would reduce support for Fleetsmiththe mobile device management solution it purchased in 2020, competitors may seek to jump in to claim a bigger share of the growing enterprise business.

Apple released a supporting document saying it had halted new registrations for Fleetsmith and that current customers should find a new solution by October 21. Fleetsmith offered a more comprehensive suite of features that would have put Apple’s offering in direct competition with Apple’s MDM software. Addy, Mosyl, Jamf or Kanji. But it looks like Apple has chosen to use some of the core elements – and key employee talents – of Fleetsmith to create its own Business Essentials solution aimed at small and medium-sized businesses.

[RELATED STORY: Apple Acquires Device Management Startup Fleetsmith]

In the support document, Apple encourages existing Fleetsmith users to choose a third-party MDM. Apple offers a simplified turnkey MDM solution called Business Essentials (currently in beta testing), but those looking for advanced features and security controls will likely need to look to one of the larger MDM competitors. Apple does not link to its own MDM offerings in the support document.

Addigy founder and CEO Jason Dettbarn told CRN the writing was on the wall as Fleetsmith customers had consistently dropped out of the service. He said MSPs with smaller customers still tied to the Fleetsmith system could be stranded trying to quickly move them to a new service. To make things easier, Addigy is offering its solution for free until October for Fleetsmith customers left behind. “We definitely got a lot of requests (after Fleetsmith’s announcement),” Dettbarn said.

Addigy will also provide the necessary migration utilities to make the change. “I’m really worried about the customers. Apple is moving at a very fast pace, so they don’t really take their time and gracefully walk people through things like this…and people have to figure out how to deal with that.

Nick Admundsen, senior vice president of strategy at Jamf, declined to comment specifically on Fleetsmith’s move, but told CRN in an email, “Apple’s momentum in the business isn’t slowing down. Enterprises are increasingly looking for a management and security vendor that is Apple’s best, easy to scale, and closes the gaps between what Apple provides and the security expertise a company has. This type of technology partner is rare, as most device management and security vendors today are designed primarily for legacy devices and limit the intended Apple experience.

Mosyle, another contender in the MDM space, this week announced the closing of $196 million in venture capital – showing that interest in the space is still hot.

Apple had never publicly announced the purchase of Fleetsmith, so details of the deal were never disclosed. Fleetwood had raised approximately $30 million in funding in the year prior to the takeover.

Apple did not respond to messages seeking comment.

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