A theory on what "App Store Volume Purchase" may be

At WWDC, one of Apple's famous 'mini text' slides appeared where they show a couple of dozen feature titles in text too small to read in the ten or so seconds the slide is up.

One of those features, for iOS 7, was entitled "App Store Volume Purchase". Naturally, I got interested but there was no more information to be had. I can't find anything on Apple's site about it, but I have a theory.

The biggest problem with the Volume Purchase Program as it currently exists is that it doesn't exist in very many places. Just last week, I was hosting a visit from some colleagues from the Netherlands. I was explaining our deployment model for next year and liberally referring to how you "just Volume Purchase that stuff".

Then I realised they didn't have the Volume Purchase Program in the Netherlands. Ooops. In fact, they don't have it almost anywhere at all. It's only currently available in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. That's really not enough and that list isn't growing longer quickly enough.

So my theory is that, instead of having to set up a whole new portal and payment system for volume purchase, Apple are going to merge it into the existing App Stores.

The App Store is available in 155 countries. The Volume Purchase Program is available in just ten.

If it were possible to buy apps in bulk through the same storefront that is already established in all these countries with the flip of a switch (i.e. an update to the T&Cs and some tweaks to the gifting process), suddenly the access to Volume Purchase takes a massive leap forward.

This is, frankly, essential to Apple's efforts in education. Right now, some of the biggest areas buying iPads have no access to VPP: the entire Middle East, all of Scandinavia, several of the more educationally progressive nations in the EU and most of Asia-Pacific.

On behalf of everyone deploying iOS without VPP, I'd love to be right about this.

A note on terminology: I don't think that this means volume purchase for the Mac App Store. Two reasons: firstly, this phrase appeared on a slide in the iOS 7 section of the keynote. Secondly, Apple is always careful to clearly delineate the "App Store" as the iOS App Store. The Mac store is always referred to as the "Mac App Store". In a section on the OS X Mavericks preview page, they explicitly state "App Store, Mac App Store, and iTunes Store" when referring to a new feature of OS X Server.

Also, a disclaimer: I'm writing this at 1500BST on the day after the keynote. This is purely my speculation based on four words on a keynote slide and what I think needs to be done. I know nothing that anyone else who watched the keynote doesn't also know. Nobody has disclosed anything whatsoever about this to me. Please do not redesign your deployment based on the contents of this post (I can't even believe I have to say that but I do).