Apple, T-Mobile offer Business Essentials to US SMBs

T-Mobile and Apple join forces to offer the first and only US wireless plan to include Apple Business Essentials, an iPhone 13, and more for small and mid-sized businesses.

Apple, SMEs, iPhone 13, T-Mobile, Business Essentials, MDM

T‑Mobile has done something different as it fights for more business customers, offering the first and only US wireless plan to include Apple Business Essentials, a new iPhone 13 for new lines, and more. The service is solidly aimed at smaller companies, even as Apple heads towards becoming a No. 1 enterprise play.

Dialing in the changes

The small business sector is booming in the US, with 5.4 million new business applications filed in 2021. The trend behind the Great Resignation is also seeing a growing number of Americans make like that popular Apple ad and ‘Escape from the Office’ – even at Apple.

“Together, T-Mobile and Apple are ready to help small businesses with an all-in-one plan that combines 5G connectivity, device management, 24/7 support, secure cloud storage and backup, and more,” T-Mobile said in announcing the deal.

T-Mobile also claimed (but did not reference) studies it says show almost 90% of companies require employees to access on average five mobile business apps each day. That requires sourcing, purchasing, onboarding, upgrading, and managing all those devices, which becomes a lot easier using the Apple Business Manager console.

What Apple said

"Apple is committed to helping small businesses thrive, and we’re proud of the longstanding relationships we’ve built with this community,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Enterprise Product Marketing. “Apple Business Essentials helps small businesses manage the entire lifecycle of their Apple products — from device management and storage, to support and repairs — so they can focus on running and growing their business.”

At the time Apple Business Essentials emerged from beta, Prescott said:  “We wanted to provide an easy solution so SMBs can focus on handling their businesses, not their tech. Using this new service leads to invaluable time savings for customers — including those without dedicated IT staff — that they can invest back into their business."

What T-Mobile said

“Teaming up with Apple is just one more way we can support small businesses as they continue to be the source of countless jobs and innovations across America,” said Callie Field, President, T-Mobile Business Group.  “We’re always looking for ways to provide more value to our customers and working with Apple gives us the opportunity to tackle a whole new pain point for small businesses — IT management.”

What’s in the plan?

The first and possibly most important thing is that this plan scales. At a cost of $50/month/line, each employee that adds a new line on the plan gets an iPhone 13. The small print seems to be that you need to have six or more lines.

T-Mobile explains:

  • Each employee who adds a new line on the plan gets a new iPhone 13.
  • Ultimate+ for iPhone is the only wireless plan that enables customers to get the all-new Apple Business Essentials, which combines device management, 24/7 Apple support, and iCloud backup and storage — into a single, flexible subscription.
  • There’s unlimited talk, text, and premium smartphone data on T-Mobile's network.
  • The plan includes a whopping 200GB of high-speed hotspot data per month, so small businesses can keep their devices connected.
  • Customers get unlimited Wi-Fi on select flights from American, Delta, and Alaska Airlines — with more airlines, including United, launching later this year.
  • The plan helps keep business customers connected in over 210 countries and destinations across the world with unlimited text and  data, including 5GB of free high-speed data per month.

T-Mobile is also launching an a la carte option that allows customers to add Business Essentials to any T-Mobile business plan for $2.99 per month, this option will be free through the end of 2022.

What one customer said

Apple Business Essentials and T-Mobile customer Nick Dominguez Jr., chief operations officer at Vertical-One in El Paso, TX, said (in a statement):

“Apple Business Essentials has changed the game for us, with iCloud backups, and the ability to service quick repairs when we need them. It gives us freedom since we spend less time doing IT and more time developing our business.”

What an analyst said

When Apple Business Essentials was introduced, Constellation Research analyst, R “Ray” Wang said: “The bottom line is that small businesses are now able to get the same level of service as large companies already get. If you think about the challenges of service big companies handle, then this is now available to small businesses, too.”

Forrester Research Senior Analyst, Andrew Hewitt said: “The combined management, deployment, support, and security services are especially valuable for SMB customers, as these customers often don't have the staffing to support these services on their own like enterprises do.

[Also read: How not to upgrade your enterprise technology]

What about Tap to Pay?

I think there are also implications beyond the obvious. Take Tap to Pay, for example. Apple’s recent introduction of Tap to Pay will inevitably generate interest across US SMBs who will be interested to begin to take contactless payments using an Apple device. However, as critics of the scheme have noted, the problem in doing so is how much rough handling the iPhone used to take payments can take. The AppleCare+ component of Business Essentials can help with that, as it provides 24/7 phone support for employees and onsite repair for iPhone.

What next?

We know Apple’s status in enterprise and business IT is growing rapidly. Even in a depressed market, Apple’s Mac and iPhone share continues to increase, and the decision to build a services component into the company’s offer to the sector can only pay dividends. The T-Mobile link-up cannot damage that services push, which will once again help Apple keep building the bottom line of services income while maintaining momentum behind increased proliferation of its devices in US business tech.

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Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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