Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

Summary: Apple is reportedly setting up an effort to target small and midsized businesses via a program called JointVenture. The model should work out nicely and cultivate more business users for Apple.

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

Apple is reportedly setting up an effort to target small and midsized businesses via a program called JointVenture. The model should work out nicely and cultivate more business users for Apple.

9 to 5 Mac outlines the JointVenture program, which is being introduced to Apple's retail staff. The details:

  • $499 for up to five users and $99 for each additional user.
  • The aim is to target companies with less than 10 people.
  • Apple thinks Microsoft is vulnerable in this market.
  • Business customers subscribed to JointVenture will be fast-tracked at the Genius Bar in Apple stores, get phone support and loaner Macs.

Meanwhile, there are rumors that Apple will expand the SMB effort to larger businesses.

Anyone that works in a PC-Mac shop knows this effort could work out nicely for Apple. After all, if your Mac has trouble and is still on warranty it's likely you IT department will send you to your local Apple store. It's not a stretch to see Apple catering to larger businesses.

In many respects, Apple's SMB move will be a big seeding process. Here's Apple's halo effect for maintenance and support revenue:

  • Apple is strong in the consumer market. Consumers often start businesses.
  • These businesses will be run by people who are already Apple loyalists.
  • It's only natural that these businesses may hire a few people and become Mac shops.
  • The Apple store becomes the de facto IT department for these folks.
  • A few of these SMBs will grow up to be much larger businesses that will skew toward Mac/iPhones/iPads.

Bottom line: JointVenture is likely to be Apple's best---and most logical path---to larger businesses. Apple has the potential to develop a strong maintenance and support revenue stream.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

    Let me preface my comments by saying that my wife and I used to run a Macintosh consulting firm and a great many of our clients fell into this small to mid sized business category. That said, this is nothing new for Apple in that regard. Microsoft has always been vulnerable in this area.

    Back when, in spite of the oft advertised "IBM Compatible" label you couldn't connect two PCs together with a string, nor could you even make them dumb terminals for minis and mains Apple had LocalTalk. It wasn't fast, but any networking at all is better than none at all.

    I was installing double digit networks with Mac Pluses in attorney's offices, municipal offices, etc. using LocalTalk back in the mid to late eighties. The 'hub' would be a breakdown box using RJ11 sockets. Like I said, it wasn't particularly fast, but I had clients doing internal email over it before the internet hit it big.

    Now the fact that Apple is apparently actually promoting this model is rather new. Even though we had all of the bits and pieces back in the day Apple didn't do a lot of hands on support. I guess I was in the same position as my PC brethren then in that if the manufacturer didn't support such configurations it was an opportunity for a guy like me armed with a little knowledge and some crimping pliers.
    • MS is vulnerable because...

      their workgroup products are too complicated for the IT less shops and their licensing model is so last century.

      Whilst larger businesses put on a MCSE to click and reboot to keep things going, Mac OS X Server groupware and unlimited client licensing appeals to the SME market.

      Mac OS X Server is exactly what's required in this market. I wish them luck (enough MS SBS failing as it is).
      Richard Flude
      • Too complicated? Do you make this stuff up?

        @Richard Flude
        You have to work for Apple.

        Try actually dealing with Apple. its 3x as complicated, and you get less in return. (Yes I know from first hand experience which is why they started dumping the Macs 3 years ago, and have never looked back.)
        Will Farrell
      • Who is this "they" you speak of?

        @Will Farrell

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

        @Richard Flude <br>Word is that OS X Server (which are scripts, FOSS service applications, and GUI controllers on top of stock OS X) will be merged into OS X 10.7.<br><br>I think that is more indicative of some effort toward small businesses. Give the software away (as part any new Mac or an upgrade to a recent Mac) and pick up on the increased hardware sales and maybe some on the service side.<br><br>It will still not be the perfect product for everyone, but take the Mac Mini plus Snow Leopard Server for $1000 dollars, drop $200 in the price and boost the hardware while keeping the server functionality. That looks like a good product for a small shop.<br><br>Any way, I was in an Apple store a few weeks back and they asked if I was interested in being on a mailing list for small business products, so they've been thinking about this for a while.
  • One more way to leverage the Apple &quot;stores.&quot;

    Between the, the new Mac OS X app store, iTMS app store, and all the brick-and-more Apple Stores, the support vertical is there. All that remains is to market it the right way, and even Apple haters will admit that no one does [i]that[/i] better than Apple.
  • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

    ... Apple cloud services could play into this rather nicely... Integration from to AppleTV for presentations... and, you have, potentially an integrated, enterprise solution that SMB can have "up and running" out of the box.
  • A few years back one of the Apple head honchos

    (I forget which) commented that Apple's strategy was to capture the niches one by one, because once you had all the niches, you had the market.
    • Nobody at Apple said that

      you just want to pretend this was Apple's plan from long ago.
      Will Farrell
      • Now who to believe Willy or frgough?

        @Will Farrell
        I admit I've never heard of that being said by an Apple exec. However It is very possible it was or had been said and I just don't know. See I am wise enough to know I'm not aware of everything that goes on at and is said about Apple. Are you Willy?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
      • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

        @Will Farrell
        Who cares if it was a tablet unearthed by a teen-aged Steve Jobs in the 1970s or a continuous reassessment wherein areas of success are evaluated as exploitation points for expansion over a two to three year time frame.

        I think it's the latter. A SMB venture follows from the iPad's success which follows from the iPhone's success which may follow from the iPod's success and from the halo effect which has increased units shipped for its traditional personal computers.
  • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

    So I'm a business, why would I go to the "genius" bar? Is Apple too good to come out to my place of business? Will the "geniuses" know what they are doing when they get to my place of business? Too funny.
  • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

    Your Mac isn't working at work? Drop what you are doing, forget your customers, grab your Mac, get in your car and drive through traffic to you local Apple store. Get "fast-tracked' whatever that means. Explain to the genius what the problem is and hope he understands, because if it's not in the script he won't. Get your loaner Mac, get back in your car and drive through traffic back to work. Get back to work and take time to set up your Mac on the network. Hope your loaner Mac has the software you were using as well as all updates .... This makes sense to Apple? California really must be on another planet.
    • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

      I also hope that the SMB is near a major metro area. I can't see many people making a 300 mile drive to see a Genius.
  • RE: Apple preps SMB play: Seeding an enterprise move?

    Oh I forgot you don't get a loaner unless your Mac cannot be repaired within 24 hours. LOL are you kidding, 24 hours? How about right now Mr genius, I have work to do.
  • Ridiculous.

    I've been running SMB tech-shops for years with Microsoft products, and they're just fine.<br><br>First of all, Apple is far too proprietary for an SMB. I like to be able to shop for the best value in components, especially desktops. I don't want Apple gouging me for a video card, simply because there is no other alternative. And, what about the cost of monitors? Holy sh*t! I can buy a nice 23" widescreen online for peanuts, but Apple (nice though they are) gets a fortune for their product.<br><br>Also, I don't want to go the the "Genius" bar every time I need tech-support. That's ridiculous! I'm a professional, not kid with a broken iPod.