By Ian Sherr
Apple Inc. is preparing to offer a package of services aimed at small- and mid-sized business that includes expanded support for company computer systems, part of the electronics maker’s efforts to appeal to users beyond its core consumer base.
Apple Wednesday will unveil “Joint Venture,” a $499-a-year service contract that gives companies using Apple’s computers, smartphones and tablets priority treatment for technical support, training programs and repairs, according to two Apple employees. The employees asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak about the initiative publicly.
Joint Venture contracts will cover five systems at a business, the people said. Coverage for each additional systemâ€”Apple’s term for a grouping of a computer, monitor and iPhoneâ€”costs $99 a year, they said.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
The introduction of Joint Venture, which comes as Apple is expected to unveil the next generation of its iPad tablet computer, marks the company’s further push into the business user market. Last year, the company began creating specialized teams at its chain of more than 300 retail stores to negotiate pricing terms with business customers. It also began incorporating conference rooms at some of its sleek stores for meetings with business executives.
(Published March 1, 2011, in The Wall Street Journal.)