Apple said it will begin accepting signups for its Apple Business Essentials service, a program it began testing last year that's designed to help small businesses with up to 500 employees manage their iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
The new program starts at $3 per month per device or $7 per month per user with up to three devices, and also has options for AppleCare Plus support and repairs starting at $10 per month per device, or $20 per user for up to three devices. Apple said it'll offer two-month free trials to businesses that want to consider signing up.
"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," said Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of Enterprise and Education Marketing, in a statement. In some cases, Apple said, customers were finding they could set up devices within 15 minutes, rather than the typical hours-long process of logging in and installing software.
Apple's expansion of offerings for small businesses comes as demand for its products is at historic highs. Typically, Apple is considered a consumer-focused company, but over the years it's created initiatives to help businesses more easily use its devices.
That includes Mobile Device Management, technology that helps companies keep track of smartphones, tablets and computers that have access to employee email, files and apps. Apple said it's using the same technology for its Apple Business Essentials service, with an eye toward tailoring it for small companies. Apple said many of the companies that signed up to test its service had as few as 20 employees.
Apple plans to continue expanding its service after launch as well. Currently, companies create a list of apps for users to download from its App Store. Sometime this summer, Apple said, it will allow companies to include Mac apps not in its App Store as well.
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