Here's some things "Joint Venture" (TM pending) probably won't be about:
- an intellectual property consortium
- a research & development consortium
- a venture capital fund for small businesses using Apple technologies
- a partnership involving a brand new direction for Apple
What it seems to be about is branding a consolidation and expansion of marketing to and services for small businesses and corporations, possibly in conjunction with and including support for value-added sales/service consultants. If this much turns out to be accurate, then you can also expect Apple to set standards it expects its non-employee representatives to live up to, and probably also standard contracts, with an array of options. I'd expect those contracts to include a clause that allows Apple to directly take over (or reassign) the relationship with the customer if they aren't happy with the quality of service provided by their Joint Venture (TM pending) partners.
What added value might those sales/service consultants provide? Installation and on-site training and service is practically a gimme. Beyond that, one significant possibility is custom programming - building applications, scripts, or simply Automator workflows that are tailored specifically to the customer's needs - and, to this end, Apple might provide some additional building blocks beyond what's already available.
There might also be resources available to encourage smaller business software companies to port their niche-dominating apps to the Mac.
(If this is to scale up very far, they're going to need deprogramming camps to soften up the preconceptions of people who've been exclusively exposed to and conditioned by Windows and Windows applications, to get them to see what they've been identifying by keystrokes and mouse clicks in more general terms and to weaken their notions of what the limits are.)
A bit too abstruse for prime time, perhaps, but potentially a massive project with far-reaching implications.