May 2, 2005 2:16 PM PDT

Apple tries to recover in the classroom

Apple Computer announced on Monday that it will sell as many as 63,000 iBook computers to a Georgia school district in one of the company's largest education deals ever.

The sale is part of a new program, which, as previously reported, will provide 17,000 iBook G4 laptops this fall to all teachers in the Cobb County School District, as well as to students at four of the district's high schools.

Apple still needs school board approval to enter the second and third phases of the district's program, called "Power to Learn." If approval is granted, Apple would eventually equip all students in the district with an iBook G4 laptop, bringing its sales total for the program to 63,000 computers.

As Apple has discovered, however, school districts treat prospective large-scale purchases gingerly, and sometimes unpredictably.

Last week in Richmond, Va., for example, the school board of Henrico County Public Schools voted to buy from Dell and drop its Apple one-to-one laptop program, which allows schools to buy a laptop for every student in a particular grade. The school board cited "maintenance, technical support, software and price" as the factors behind its decision.

Back in 2001, HCPS agreed to purchase 23,000 iBooks--one of Apple's largest education deals at the time. Under the phased-in four-year lease program, the school district was expected to pay $18.4 million over the first two years. But as Henrico's four-year contract came up for renewal, the district opted out of Apple's program.

Apple, which once dominated the education market, has been losing out to a number of Windows-based competitors such as Dell.

Despite its setback with HCPS, Apple's one-to-one sales strategy has paid off in many cases. School districts in Maine, where every seventh- and eighth-grader throughout the state now has an iBook, and other school districts have signed up for the program.

Apple did not have an immediate comment regarding HCPS' decision to discontinue the one-to-one program.

Addressing the Cobb County deal, Timothy Cook, Apple executive vice president of worldwide sales and operations, said in a statement: "School districts across the country have improved student achievement with the help of Apple's one-to-one solutions, and this ambitious project will give Cobb County students a tremendous academic advantage."

Cobb County school officials, however, say they were aware of the problems at the Henrico school district and took that into consideration when developing their requirements for the four PC makers that bid on the project.

"We wrote into our (bid requirements) more rigorous support and training provisions," said Jay Dillion, a spokesman for the Cobb County school district. "We also required Apple to pre-load Office on all our iBooks. That was one problem Henrico faced. They didn't have Office and wanted it."

18 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
I heard the Superintendent overruled the board
I heard the Superintendent overruled the board's decision to go
with Macs, and hopefully, Tiger;-)

Does anybody know if this is true?

The reasons sited smell of bias.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The only bias I see is yours
'The reasons sited smell' like they did their jobs, and got the best deal for their school district.
Schools are not there to evangelize any operating system. They are there to teach, and computers ( with any OS ) are tools to be used to that end. Which ever vendor offers the best price/feature package should be used. It seems Dell came out ahead in this one. Apple will lower its prices for the next, and everyone wins
Posted by catchall (245 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah, keep TRYING, Apple
Oh please, why would kids or teens want to use Mac in the school when most families have PCs anyway? Apple simply don't get it :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Link Flag
Software may be an issue
My Child's school has Apple computers that they can't use because all of the software that the school has is for PC's. Apple needs to address the software issue, because computers with no software are only useful for surfing the web.

If the PC software can run on the Mac's, Apple has done a poor job of showing how to run those software packages on Mac's because our child's school is considering getting PC's to replace the Mac's.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Far Cheaper
Rather then replacing hardware, it would make far more sense
for your school to be replacing software. Why do they have
Windows software but Apple hardware?
Posted by jmmejzz (107 comments )
Link Flag
Smooth move
PC software does not run on MAC, talk about somebody not doing their homework.
Posted by (16 comments )
Link Flag
Essential Software works fine
Student software such as MS Word and Excel work just fine on
Macs if you choose not to use the free AppleWorks equivalents.

If the school chooses to use PC unique applications (especially
for school admin) that is just a dumb choice given they already
have Macs.

I support a school with 84 Macs and 10 Dell PCs.
1 - the Dells take much more of my time than the Macs due to
the never-ending viruse protection issues and teachers
downloading unauthorized software.
2 - every critical application has Mac and PC equivalents that can
exchange files.
3 - the average age of the Macs is 9 years, the Dells are 2 years
old. The Dells are falling apart, the Macs have stood up to even
the Kindergarten and 1st graders.

Take the Mac route.
Posted by James Wojciehowski (19 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.