Good news, small businesses! Apple has recently launched a new business-aimed service called JointVenture to help service business customers (and other customers who strongly depend on their Macs) in a much more efficient and appreciable way. While you may have heard a number of rumors about the new service, we’ve rounded up some of the relevant facts.
What is JointVenture?
Apple’s new JointVenture service is a multi-computer service plan targeted at small business. It replaces Apple’s previous ProCare service (which was available to both consumers with single machines AND businesses with multiple machines), and offers many of the same features, with a few notable additions. The service costs $500 for up to 5 systems covered, and costs an additional $100 for every subsequent system added to the plan.
What are the benefits?
- 1. Initial Machine Setup
- JointVenture membership entitles you to a free setup of your machine, including configuring it with your mail server, setting up your contacts, transferring your data, installing applications, and setting up your preferences the way you like them.
- 2. Customized Training
- Another strong feature of JointVenture is the customized training that it offers. With JointVenture, employers can schedule up to three two-hour sessions of training for their employees at the Apple Store. The trainers are, of course, experts about Macs, but also would have specialized training to support businesses and their employees. Such training might include how to better use iPhone and iPad for business, using Keynote to create compelling presentations, and so forth. They’ll even customize these sessions.
In addition, Apple will be offering monthly “Getting Started workshops”, which are tailored to business users that might be working with the Mac for the first time, or those that need to brush up on the basic elements of using a Mac. They’re billing this as a promising feature for new employees, to get them up to speed very quickly.
Further, Apple will offer specialized training for a company’s IT department, in order to train them on Apple implementation and help them build a functional plan for supporting Apple products in your business (such as at the help-desk level and so forth).
- 3. Genius Phone Support
- The third big new thing Apple is doing is offering the ability for JointVenture customers to contact a genius by phone directly. There will be dedicated Geniuses in the Apple Store for this purpose, and the geniuses will be able to estimate repair times, offer technical consultation, answer basic technical questions, and so forth.
- 4. AnyTime Servicing
- Also included with JointVenture are a seemingly unlimited (I couldn’t find any indication otherwise) number of servicing visits to keep your Mac up and running. These can include having Apple update your software, run system diagnostics, repair permissions, and even clean your keyboard and display.
- 5. Loaner Program
- The new JointVenture system offers a loaner Mac (choose between a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air) any time your system needs a repair. This one seems like the biggest deal to me, especially considering I was very recently without my MacBook Pro for a number of days to to a service call – 4 days time that I lost from productivity. With the new JointVenture program, such productivity losses for people that depend on their computer for work or other purposes may be a relative thing of the past.
- 6. Customized JointVenture Website
- Finally, JointVenture offers their unique JointVenture website. This is largely an administrative tool that allows employers or managers to schedule training, invite employees to sessions, and so forth, although it also allows employees the ability to schedule repairs and provides the necessary information to contact a Genius and so forth.
There are a few important questions to consider with JointVenture that are not well answered by the service’s website. For instance, it is unclear whether AppleCare is required for each machine, or whether this service effectively replaces AppleCare for businesses, offering a yearly option rather than a 3-year contract.
Additionally, it’s unclear whether this services applies only to Apple Retail Stores (as was the case with ProCare), or whether certain services would also be available at Apple Authorized Service Providers. We’d hope that Apple updates its website to make this matter much more clear.
I think that JointVenture is a solid program, and something that will undoubtedly help business, as well as helping Apple to gain business customers. It will help small business manage tech support and help desk operations, and will make Mac adoptions that much simpler for interested business.
I am, however, greatly disappointed that there seems to be no option for individuals that need such services (such as entrepreneurs). It appears that ProCare may still be available, but ProCare provides much less than this new program, and notably does not offer the option of a loaner machine.
All in all, this seems to be a great move for Apple, and a relatively inexpensive way for business to get an added level of service for the Macs deployed within their organizations.