We're giving away iPads (for real, and no you can't have one) as part of a promotion to our referral network. But the plan is to ship it pre-installed with our sales presentation apps and sign-up tools.

However, you can't install an app on an iPad until you've activated it through iTunes.

Is there some method anyone's aware of that would mean we can pre-install these apps on the pad before giving it to the recipient to activate?

  • I would just add a clause on the promotion saying the iPads would go already activated so you could add the app and people were free to delete or reset to factory default as they wish.
    – cregox
    Jan 4, 2011 at 18:52

5 Answers 5


Contact your local Apple Store and ask to speak to one of their Business Consultants (each store has one.) If you are buying bulk quantities of iPods Apple used to offer digital etching of your company logo on the back as well as the ability to preload it with promotional content (e.g. videos), I am not sure if they are doing this with Apps on the iPad but it is worth a shot and the Business Consultant is the person who would know or have the resources to find out.

  • The custom program (as of August 2011) still only applies to iPod models - you still should ask, but this isn't something that is standard for iPads.
    – bmike
    Aug 4, 2011 at 15:29

When I picked up my iPhone 4 at the App store they were able to pre-activate it with the computer there so that I could start using it, but it still wasn't linked to a computer. I was able to download some apps from the app store right away (linking it to my iTunes account). Then when I got home I connected it to my computer and gave it a name and set everything up, completing the activation process. It installed all the apps from my old iPod Touch onto the iPhone, keeping the new apps I installed.

I asked the sales rep about it at the Apple store and he said it was a special configuration they had on their computers there. So you might be able to do that with your iPads (although they didn't offer when I got my iPad) and then install your apps before sending them out.

Of course it would require you have an Apple store close by.


I think, the only way to do this without hacking the iPads OS would be an OEM version of the iPad OS. I don't know if Apple offers something like that.

  • 4
    I get the impression Apple is allergic to the idea of an OEM. Sep 12, 2010 at 4:41

It looks like you may have to look into the Enterprise Distribution solution.

Also using the iPhone config utility. I am not sure if it works with the iPad as well.



This is very doable. You could prepare one iPad the manner you prefer and store that backup image in iTunes.

Each new iPad could be booted into restore mode (hold the home button while the iPad is off and connect it to the computer, holding the home button.)

You can then restore your image onto the iPad. Shut off the iPad, re-wrap it and optionally put your card in the box so the recipient is reminded you set it up personally for them. You can easily be quite neat and do all this with the Aapple wrapping around the iPad itself nearly undisturbed except for the tab by the dock connector. It folds back well and the weight if the iPad soon makes it perfectly re-sealed.

Shrink wrapping the outside iPad box again gives the recipient that brand new feeling.

The licensing of your sales apps needs to be discussed so as to avoid the user from losing them on a restore without a backup. You have several options there from enterprise signing, volume purchase, custom app through apple or plain old gifting once the recipient sends your their Apple ID. But, the iPad will work out of the box and you have time to follow up with each recipient to keep them going.

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