Apple unveils new enterprise support plan

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AppleCare for Enterprise part of the Apple-IBM partnership announced in July

Four months after Apple and IBM announced a partnership to amalgamate IBM's big data and analytics capabilities with Apple's iPhone and iPad, Apple launched a new support offering that taps both companies' expertise to assist enterprises.

AppleCare for Enterprise, as the new support tier is called, was painted with broad strokes on a new Apple website. AppleInsider first reported on the new site Wednesday.

As outlined on the site, AppleCare for Enterprise generally fits what industry analysts were told during summer briefings. Apple and IBM unveiled their alliance on July 15.

Apple will assign a liaison -- an AppleCare account manager -- to companies that purchase support, and replace damaged or lost iPhones and iPads. Apple said it would exchange devices within one business day in most cases, and capped that part of AppleCare at 10% of a company's devices registered under the plan.

IBM Global Technology Services, an arm of the Armonk, N.Y. company, will provide next-day onsite service, which is available for either two-year or three-year stretches.

Some support responsibilities were not assigned specifically to either Apple or IBM, although most seemed to be on Apple's shoulders. The IT-level support part of the plan will apparently be provided by Apple, with possible assistance from IBM, even in those cases where the involved product is an IBM MobileFirst for iOS app.

"We'll provide support for complex deployment and integration scenarios, including MDM and Active Directory," the AppleCare for Enterprise site stated. "And if you need help with IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps, we'll help troubleshoot your solution and work with IBM to get your issue resolved."

That ran counter to expectations in July, when analysts said IBM would take the lead because, as Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy put it, "IBM speaks enterprise, Apple does not."

Under the partnership, IBM pledged to create more than 100 industry-specific native iOS apps; IBM calls that collection IBM MobileFirst for iOS.

Apple did not list prices for AppleCare for Enterprise, instead telling customers to contact their Apple or IBM account executive for quotes.

The matrix (download PDF) that lists the specifics of current AppleCare plans for businesses now includes AppleCare for Enterprise.

A "Terms and Conditions" document explaining AppleCare for Enterprise has also been added to Apple's website. Those terms answered some of the questions that analysts had in July, including whether older software would be supported (sort of, only the current version and the one prior) and how long hardware would be covered (three-year extended warranties, a year longer than the AppleCare offered to consumers).

AppleCare for Enterprise Apple

Apple launched an informational page on its support website that broadly explained the new AppleCare for Enterprise support plan, part of the Apple-IBM partnership announced in July.

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