First Fruits of Apple-IBM Deal: AppleCare for Enterprise Services

Apple enterprise users can now get direct product support through the enterprise partnership unveiled by IBM and Apple in July.

IBM Apple alliance

Business users of iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, iMacs and other Apple devices just got a big boost now that Apple has unveiled its first formal AppleCare for Enterprise service offering to provide direct and specialized support to enterprise technology users.

The new AppleCare for Enterprise effort surfaced on Apple's Website on Nov. 5 with little fanfare and without any kind of press announcement, and came less than four months after Apple and IBM forged a partnership to match up Apple's devices with IBM's global sales and support services.

Under the terms of the new AppleCare program, Apple enterprise customers will be able to receive everything from 24/7 phone support to priority on-site repairs and personalized assistance from Apple experts so that businesses can keep their Apple devices working smoothly, according to the Website. Pricing was not disclosed and Apple did not immediately respond to an email inquiry from eWEEK about the new support initiative.

A key feature of the new service is that businesses will get their own AppleCare account manager who will be a personal liaison between a business and Apple who can review the internal IT infrastructure, track issues and provide monthly activity reports for support calls and repairs, according to Apple.

Under the AppleCare for Enterprise program, enterprises will receive IT department-level support by phone or email for all Apple hardware and software as well as support for complex deployment and integration scenarios, including mobile device management (MDM) and Active Directory.

On-site service will be provided through IBM's global support network, under the partnership arrangement between the two companies. Companies can designate six people to be technical contacts for the program, and more contacts can be added for additional fees, according to Apple. For urgent issues, one-hour response time can be expected.

The AppleCare for Enterprise program also can provide 24/7 telephone technical support for a company's employees for Apple hardware and operating systems; Apple apps such as Keynote, Pages and Numbers; and personal accounts or settings.

Enterprises can get a wide assortment of service options, priority on-site services, and next-business-day device replacement to cover their Apple devices under the AppleCare for Enterprise program. Users can get on-site service coverage for two or three years from the date of hardware purchases, including repair visits by IBM's Global Technology Services within the next business day. The AppleCare for Enterprise program can be combined with the AppleCare iOS Direct Service Program as well so businesses can get their hardware replaced without waiting for a technician.

The new service offerings for Apple enterprise users signify real support progress for businesses that depend on Apple products, Dan Maycock, an analyst with OneAccord Digital, told eWEEK. "IBM and Apple came together earlier to join forces with the idea that IBM would provide support for the enterprise," he said. "It makes sense they had to build something like this in order to be partners," he said of the formal AppleCare for the Enterprise program.

In the past, Apple has had behind-the-scenes black-shirted business support staffers in their Apple stores who remained out of the retail side of the business but who were available to help business users, said Maycock. "They never come out unless they are asked for," and each store has at least one, he said.