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Apple's Joint Venture small business service plan launches quietly

Apple's new service for small businesses moving to Mac, Joint Venture, appears to be off the ground. The service starts at US$499 for up to five systems, although complete pricing details are not immediately visible on the web page touting Joint Venture.

So, what does Joint Venture provide for the small business that wants to buy Macs? Pretty much everything. To begin with, the Apple Store that you work with will set up all of the new Macs "usually within 24 hours." The setup includes moving data from an existing Mac or PC, and installation of any software that you purchase through Apple.

Apple also sets up a unique Joint Venture page for your company, on which you can set up training for your employees, book appointments with a Genius or Business Specialist at the store, sign up for workshops or get tech support.

The training consists of up to three two-hour sessions, held at the Apple Store, for your employees. The classes are rather general in nature, but according to the Joint Venture web page, the staff will work with businesses to customize the training. There are also Getting Started workshops held on a regular basis that are designed to bring new employees up to speed on using Apple products.

As for tech support, Joint Venture gives business owners access to the Genius Bar via phone (or in-store visit). The service will even provide loaner machines while your computer is "in the shop."

Like Apple's alliance with OnForce, the Joint Venture program has the potential to cut into the business of Apple Consultants Network (ACN) members. For many ACNs, the initial setup of Macs at a customer site is not only a way to gain revenue, but also provide training to new employees at a firm and integrate the new Macs into an overall system design. Troubleshooting and resolution of issues at a client's location is also the bread-and-butter of many ACN members, and now that service has the potential of being sidetracked by the Joint Venture program.

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