AASPs, ACNs and the Genius Bar

Andrew Munchbach:

BGR has learned that the topic in question is a new, retail-based service being called Joint Venture. First rumored back in March of last year, Joint Venture is an extension of Apple’s current Genius Bar services that is aimed at small businesses and prosumers. Subscribers of the new service will be able to speak with a store-based Apple technician — lovingly referred to as Geniuses — over the phone for one-on-one consultation and troubleshooting, or they can request an on-site visit. Currently, Apple’s Geniuses are not allowed to provide support remotely via the phone or in-person outside of Apple’s retail locations.

On-site support and time for one-to-one care are two things that have set Apple-Authorized Service Providers and members of the Apple Consultants Network apart from Apple retail. Apple has been ramping up its in-store business sales teams over the last 18 months or so, and so far, that has paid off for third-party Apple shops in the form of numerous small business installs and support gigs.

If Apple store employees do venture out into the world, it could spell bad news for small Apple shops (like the one I used to manage). If given a choice, many may choose an “official” Apple support route over a third-party. That would cripple many small companies.

However, Apple stores are already stressed, with many Genius Bars are stretched too thin. Adding off-site support could be a disaster for some teams. I know in my experience with our local store, the business team often lacked real-world knowledge about many products and services past Apple’s own. That’s a critical shortcoming when working in the field. And one that Apple will need to overcome if they want to succeed in this realm.

Update: Be sure to check out Steve Sande’s post over at TUAW on other possible changes concerning the ACN.