Apple Configurator vs. MDM

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Is Apple Configurator a cheap substitute fo true Mobile Device Management? Or is it something else entirely? We hope this comparison answers the question.

Some notes: when we write "MDM", we are speaking about the combination of ActiveSync, MobileConfig Profiles, and Apple's interface for MDM commands that is used by most vendors in our Comparison of MDM Providers.

Apple Configurator is listed twice, since it can be used in two different ways. Devices can be unsupervised -- which means the are simply prepared for deployment -- or supervised, something altogether different.

As an alternative to Configurator, you may want to consider GroundControl, which has many of the same features, packaged for enterprise use.

  MDM Configurator (unsupervised) Configurator (supervised)
Installation web page or app or DEP USB USB
Delivery of Updates OTA Push USB from original computer USB from original computer
Multi-user devices? Not really No No
Set up mobileconfig restrictions, web clips, email, VPN, etc.? Yes, with push updates and changes Yes, only during initial config Yes
Update iOS Only if DEP enrolled Yes Yes
Set Wallpaper Yes Yes Yes
Install free apps Yes Yes Yes
Owner (Apple ID) of free apps End User Installer Installer
Install Paid Apps with VPP Codes Yes Yes Yes
Owner of Paid Apps End-User ? Device
Revokable and Reuse VPP Codes? No Yes (if device erased by ACfg) Yes
Passwords entries needed for N app installs on a single device? N (most implementations) or 1 (some implementations) 0 0
Can push documents? Not through MDM (some have companion app) Yes, as part of initial image Yes, per-user docs backed up and saved
Query installed apps Yes No No
Remote Wipe Yes No No
Ideal for BYOD and/or widely-dispersed users Initial configuration and deployments, especially when paired with MDM Classrooms, loaner units, trainings, kiosks

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