Longtime providers of the tech tools of choice for musicians and graphic designers, Apple Inc. is now reaching out to small businesses with a packaged technical-support plan, called Joint Venture.  While field service organizations may have been — and may still be — the least likely Mac switchers in years past, times are changing: Not only are there new enterprise iPad apps gaining traction with mobile field agents, but SMBs now have some appealing Apple-IT support services. As Business News Daily explains, “for some businesses weighing a switch to Apple products, [Joint Venture] could be a tipping point.”

According to AppleInsider, Joint Venture will provide support service, which includes setup and training, for about $500 a year to businesses purchasing new Macs. The plan will cover up to five systems, though additional systems may be added for $99 a year, AppleInsider reports, and is a tool that could add support for SMBs such as field service firms. Mobile devices such as Apple’s iPad and iPhone are increasingly finding their way into the hands of field service techs and are giving those workers their first taste of what Apple has to offer – and they’re finding that it’s a big improvement over clipboards spreadsheets.

A few features of the plan: Apple Genius techs install and configure Microsoft Exchange during setup; businesses receive priority service at Apple’s Genius Bar and are first in line for repairs, similar to the coverage customers of Apple’s ProCare service plan receive; customers whose repairs take longer than 24 hours to complete may be eligible to borrow MacBook Pros in the interim.

Personal data transfer, limited group training sessions and corporate phone support round out the mix.

“How will this affect the Small Business IT consultancy that does most of this training, maintenance and tech support?” asks ComputerWorld’s Seth Weintraub. His survey of experts in the field turned up positive reactions. Here’s one from Edward Eigerman of Eigerman IT Consulting in New York:

Apple has been largely ignoring the needs of small and medium sized businesses, a potentially huge market for them. It’s great to see them finally working on products and services that really provide those businesses what they need.

Joint Venture will premier at a Wednesday press event in San Francisco under the tagline “Get Setup. Get Trained. Keep Running.”

More on mobile enterprise technology on The SmartVan.

ABOUT Sara Suddes

San Francisco-based contributor Sara Suddes writes frequently about small business, the economy and technology.