Mix: Joint Venture, AT&T, Samsung, China Mobile

Apple has introduced Joint Venture, a new Retail Store program aimed at small businesses. Under the plan, businesses pay $499 a year for up to five systems—each of which can include a Mac, two displays, an iPhone, an iPod, an iPad, and Apple peripherals—and in return get help from Apple in setting up the computers, transferring any necessary data, and installing any software, up to three in-store training sessions a year, a number for phone-based Apple Genius support, a dedicated Joint Venture website, and, should a covered system need service, access to a loaner MacBook while the system is down. For more information, see Apple’s dedicated Joint Venture webpage.

AT&T has confirmed that it will offer support for the Personal Hotspot feature of iOS 4.3 at launch, according to Electronista.

The feature expands on iOS’ prior tethering feature, allowing up to five devices to share an iPhone 4’s cellular data connection over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or USB. Notably, the feature will cost the same amount—$20 with 2GB of extra data on top of the $25/2GB data plan—as the prior tethering option. The carrier has also announced that it will offer postpaid billing options for tablets, allowing users to choose between the $15/250MB or $25/2GB plans, add the plans to existing monthly wireless statements, and pay at the end of the month. Unlike with the prepaid plans, users who exceed their monthly data allotment are charged $10 for each 1GB of overage, instead of having to pay for a second monthly term at the $15 or $25 price levels.

Following Apple’s announcement of the iPad 2, Lee Don-joo, senior vice president of Samsung’s mobile unit, made several comments related to the new device, according to the Yonhap News Agency. Comparing it to Samsung’s recently announced Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, he said, “We will have to improve the parts that are inadequate,” adding, “Apple made it very thin.” Lee also appeared to be concerned with pricing, saying that “The 10-inch (Galaxy Tab) was to be priced higher than the 7-inch but we will have to think that over.”

Speaking with reporters at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party, China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs wants to make a version of the iPhone that works on the carrier’s proprietary TD-SCDMA 3G network. “Jobs has said he’s very interested in developing an iPhone that will run on TD,” he said. China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile carrier with over 580 million subscribers as of January.