During a series of store-wide meetings on Sunday, Apple prepped its retail employees for a March 2 launch of Joint Venture, a new technical support plan targeted at small businesses, according to “AppleInsider” (http://www.appleinsider.com).

The plan will cost about US$500 a year and will be made available to businesses when purchasing a new Mac. Up to five systems will be covered by the plan, though additional systems may be added for $99 a year, says “AppleInsider.”

The article says customers enrolled in the plan will receive priority service at the Genius Bar and gain access to an exclusive Apple Genius-manned technical support number at the corporate office. During repairs that take longer than 24 hours to complete, customers may be eligible to borrow 15-inch MacBook Pros with iWork and Microsoft Office preinstalled, says “AppleInsider.”