Apple to Offer SMBs Tech Support Plan for iPads, Macs

Industry watchers are expecting Apple to further its push into the enterprise this week by introducing a new support network for small businesses -- called JointVenture -- that includes a dedicated help hotline, loaner computers and priority status in the tech help wait lines at Apple Retail stores.

The reports of the JointVenture plan for SMBs comes as Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) preps for a media event Wednesday, at which the company is anticipated to unveil the update to the iPad. It's unclear if Apple will roll out details of JointVenture at the event or at some other time this week.

In addition to reports of the small business plan from Apple, there are also rumors of a white iPad 2 being shown off at the event Wednesday.

The new small business plan is likely to cost $499 for up to five users and $99 for each additional employee, according to 9to5mac.com's Seth Weintraub, who cites unnamed Apple retail workers as sources.

If reports are true, JointVenture subscribers will receive priority care at the Genius Bars in Apple retails stores. They will also get a dedicated tech help from aides who are knowledgeable about business use of Macs and iPads, and, if it takes Apple more than a day to repair a machine, the company will provide a loaner unit. Customized workshops focusing on enterprise use of Apple hardware will also be offered. It's unclear whether or not they can request on-site tech help calls and how the small business support plan will address use of iPhones in the enterprise.

The news of JointVenture comes at a time when Apple is making inroads into the enterprise in an effort to expand its customer base, especially in the mobile sector. Currently, many mobile management firms are extending their services to support iPads and iPhones as they are being used more and more in the workplace.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment.

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