New Mac upgrade program arrives for business partners

Apple has apparently introduced a business-only program that enables members to obtain and eventually upgrade computers for a relatively low monthly fee. A tweet from writer Max Weinbach shows an image of Apple’s “New Mac Notebook Upgrade Program” promotional material that popped up for a customer with access to a business portal (via MacRumors).

The deal appears to be in partnership with CIT Group, a bank for business customers where this landing page for the program shares the monthly rates for different MacBook models — starting with the 13-inch MacBook Air for $30, 13-inch MacBook Pro for $39, 14-inch MacBook Pro for $60, and 16-inch MacBook Pro for $75. Apple did not respond to requests for comment from The Verge on the details of the program, while CIT Group declined to comment, directing requests for information to Apple.

The process as listed on the site begins with a standard business financing application — just sign the documents after approval, and then CIT will issue a PO to Apple on the business’s behalf. The application page is titled “Apple M1 Refresh,” which lays bare the intention to push businesses to upgrade from Intel-based Macs to their more powerful and energy-efficient successors. The information available does not clarify whether there are any minimum order amounts involved per organization based on size or the exact path to ownership of these machines if there is one.

Typically, organizations with Apple Business and Education (K-12 or Higher Ed) accounts can create a purchase order for devices and accessories using a special Apple Store site. Apple offers these partners financing, but it usually would be for the complete purchase amounts (save for some small discounts). This new Mac upgrade program now gives these organizations an option to lease MacBooks, though there is no mention if accessories or other computers will be available.

Assuming a small business with five employees needs five MacBook Airs, they could potentially have them for $150 / month (ignoring taxes) but would have to hold on to them for at least 90 days before being able to upgrade. Still, this means that instead of paying $4,995 upfront for the five notebooks, the small business could hang on to them for about 33 months before reaching the full cost.

This aligns nicely with the Small Business Essentials support package that Apple announced in November, enabling small startups to get running — and invested in — Apple hardware without spending a lot of money. It doesn’t look like this will lead to something for consumers like the iPhone Upgrade Program Apple has offered since 2015. Still, small business employees who carefully eye the annual refresh cycle might get new computers more often.