Apple Preps Retail Employees for Rollout of 'Joint Venture' Services

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As expected, Apple's "secret" meeting for retail store employees last night was in fact targeted at sharing information on the company's forthcoming "Joint Venture" service that will roll out over the next few days, primarily focusing on providing advanced and priority technical support to small businesses.

9 to 5 Mac and our own sources have provided a few details on the program, which will cost $499 per year for up to five machines and $99 per year for each additional machine. The program offers a number of benefits, including:

- Genius Bar telephone support and priority access: Users will be able to receive call-in technical support from Apple Geniuses rather than having to visit an Apple Store. Those that do elect to stop by an Apple Store for in-person consultations will receive priority access.

- Loaner computers: For repairs scheduled to take more than 24 hours, Apple will provide loaner 15-inch MacBook Pros to carry users through while their own machines are out of commission.

- Workshops and setup: Specialized workshops will be held to assist small businesses with increasing the effectiveness of their Macs and other devices. Apple Geniuses will also provide setup for new machines, including data transfers and configuration of Microsoft Exchange and other services to work with companies' existing systems.

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