Apple JointVenture targets small shops

February 28, 2011: 6:12 AM ET

Retail staff briefed Sunday on a plan to move into enterprises that aren't yet "confused"

Source: littlelines.com

"What I love about the consumer market, that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it, and every person votes for themselves... With the enterprise market, it's not so simple. The people that use the products don't decide for themselves, and the people that make those decisions sometimes are confused." -- Steve Jobs at D8

Nobody in the audience at All Things D last June had to be told who "the people" were that Jobs was referring to or the nature of their confusion: The IT managers in large enterprises whose lock-in with Microsoft (MSFT) platforms dates back three decades to the day Bill Gates sold PC-DOS to IBM (IBM).

On Sunday, Apple (AAPL) retail staffers were briefed on JointVenture, the company's latest plan to wrest some of that business away from Microsoft. Their target, according to reports coming out of Sunday's meetings: shops with 10 or fewer employees.

"They really want to hit the under 10-person organizations hard," reports 9to5Mac's Seth Weintraub, quoting employees who were at Sunday's meetings. "Apple thinks Microsoft is exposed in this area because small businesses of this size are more agile, aren't as likely to be connected to a complicated Microsoft infrastructure and don't have a dedicated IT person to steer them wrong."

The new service, according to several reports, is set to be announced Wednesday, March 2, will cost $499 for up to five users (plus $99 for each additional user), and will include these services:

  • Computer set-up (similar to Apple's current Pro-Care) to configure e-mail, networking, etc.
  • Prioritized Genius Bar service whereby JointVenture members move to the front of the line
  • Telephone access to Genius Bar staffers in case of emergency
  • Loaner MacBook Pros (with Office and Work pre-installed) when repairs take more than 24 hours
  • Group training sessions for staffers (up to three a year for up to eight people at a time)

One of Weintraub's sources described JointVenture as "ProCare on steroids." Its tag line, according to AppleInsider, is "Get Setup. Get Trained. Keep Running."

That sounds like Apple.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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