Apple Tests Business Essentials Subscriptions for Small Business

Official launch of device management, storage and support will come in the spring of 2022.

Wanting to get its share of growing and remote teams, Apple is testing Business Essentials subscriptions for small businesses with up to 500 employees. Business Essentials offers device management, storage and support to help small businesses better deal with their IT demands. This becomes particularly important as companies add users and devices who work off-site.

“Small businesses are at the core of our economy, and we’re proud that Apple products play a role in helping these companies grow,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Enterprise and Education Marketing, in the company’s November 10, 2021 announcement.

“Apple Business Essentials is designed to help streamline every step of employee device management within a small business — from setup, onboarding, and upgrading, to accessing fast service and prioritized support, all while keeping data backed up and secure, so companies can focus on running their business,” added Prescott.

Here is a short explanation of Apple’s business strategy. There is an 8-minute version available on the Business Essentials page of the Apple.com website.

Business Essentials benefits

Among the IT tasks that Business Essentials supports include:

  • Easy setup and user onboarding
  • Secure storage and backup to iCloud
  • Built-in security with FileVault, Activation Lock and User Enrollment
  • 24/7 support with AppleCare+
  • Repairs and replacements as needed
  • Device updates

“It’s like having a big IT department without having a big IT department,” says Apple in its promo video. “So no matter how much the business grows, we’re here to make IT easy every step of the way.”

Image courtesy of Apple

Launching spring 2022

While Apple made a big splash with the launch, small business owners shouldn’t get too excited just yet. The service doesn’t launch until spring of 2022, though Apple is offering a free beta version in the U.S. for small businesses who want to give it a try.

Three subscription plans

Apple Business Essentials is priced by device or by user, and there are three plans to choose from. The single device plan, which includes 50GB of storage, is $2.99 per device per month. It is ideal for users who only have one device. The multi-device plan is $6.99 per user per month, including 200GB of storage, which accommodates up to three devices per user. For power users, a multi-device-more storage plan may be a better fit. Priced at $12.99 per user per month, this plan covers three devices per user and it offers 2TB of storage.

Subscription growth

Though Apple’s fourth quarter earnings results are not currently available in their Investor Relations portal, on the October 28 earnings call transcribed by The Motley Fool, Apple CFO Luca Maestri commented that Apple’s paid subscriptions are showing “very strong growth.” The company now has 745 million paid subscriptions across their range of subscription services (e.g., Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple One, Apple Fitness, etc.), an increase of more than 160 million from the same time last year and five times greater than the number of paid subscribers.

Insider Take

Like other big tech companies that have previously relied on product, enterprise and/or perpetual licensing sales, Apple is migrating toward subscriptions to diversify their revenue streams and to have more predictable income. On the earnings call, Maestri indicated that, of the record $83.4 billion in total revenue during the last quarter, $65.1 billion came from products (78.1%) and $18.3 billion (21.9%) came from services. Product revenue represented a 30% increase year-over-year, while service revenue saw a 26% increase year-over-year. As Apple rolls out and fine tunes subscription products, we can expect to see a greater shift toward recurring revenue products like Business Essentials.