Apple is a consumer-focused company first and foremost. They have enterprise sales departments but the bulk of their marketing and support effort go into consumer sales.
That may all be changing soon. Apple recently filed for the trademark "Joint Venture", which it describes as covering:
Maintenance, installation and repair of computer hardware, computer peripherals, computer networks, and consumer electronic devices; information, advisory and consultancy services
Technical support and consulting services pertaining to computer hardware, computer peripherals, computer software and consumer electronics; troubleshooting and computer diagnostic services for computer hardware, computer peripherals, computer software and consumer electronic devices; consulting services in the field of selection, implementation and use of computer hardware and software systems for others.
Education and training services, namely, personal instruction and conducting classes, workshops, conferences and seminars in the field of computers, computer software, computer peripherals, online services, information technology, internet website design, video products and consumer electronics; arranging of exhibitions, seminars and conferences; arranging professional workshop and training courses; providing on-line publications in the nature of newsletters in the field of computers, computer software, computer peripherals, online services, information technology, internet website design, video products and consumer electronics.
Apple's Enterprise sales and training teams as well as small business liasons at Apple Stores are both pushed to the back of Apple's offerings. This "Joint Venture" concept would seem to indicate that Apple is moving beyond these two passive programs or perhaps combining them into a single active business services division.
The first question in my mind is how this will affect the Small Business IT consultancy that does most of this "Training, Maintenance and Technical support" right now. So I asked some experts in the field who seemed to welcome the help from Apple.
Chad Lockey from Goldman Lockey Consulting, an Apple-focused IT consultancy in San Francisco, said:
"We work with small to medium sized companies on a day to day basis, and can say without a doubt that Apple has huge potential in pursuing this market in the business sector. It's been a natural fit for us, and they seem to merely be closing the loop on something that smaller/medium sized companies have known and practiced for ages: it makes sense to use Macs. It's good to see they're giving this the attention and support it deserves."
Edward Eigerman from Eigerman IT Consulting in New York isn't discouraged by the possibility either:
"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."
Apple currently has a retail business services division as part of its Stores Program, which it advertises as "A partnership with added benefits".
I like the sound of "Joint Venture" better.