Back in early December MacCentral brought readers news about a pending deal between Apple and the state of Maine to equip Maine middle schoolers with iBooks. At today’s Macworld Conference & Expo keynote address, Apple CEO Steve Jobs confirmed that his company had won that bid — the biggest single educational deal ever for Apple or any other computer vendor. The deal is worth US$37.2 million over the next four years.
Apple negotiated a contract with the Maine Department of Education to provide 36,000 iBook systems to seventh and eighth grade students and teachers across the state. Part of the Maine Learning Technology Wireless Classroom Solution, the effort’s goal is to make Maine students “become one of the most digitally capable groups in the world.”
Apple will — at least for now — be providing 500MHz iBooks equipped with 128MB SDRAM, AirPort wireless networking cards, and other amenities including Mac OS X. The company is also responsible for setting up wireless networking in each classroom as well as central servers and backup systems. Apple plans to support the iBooks through a four year AppleCare protection plan and toll-free help desk support for all users.
The state of Maine’s department of education put out a request for proposals in mid-September, and announced in December that Apple was the top bidder. At the time, the state indicated that the deal would be finalized after the successful negotiation of an agreement and the requisite regulatory approval.
The guidelines for the plan call for seventh grade students and faculty to be equipped with computers by the fall of this year. Eighth grade students will be equipped in 2003. Apple’s contract with the Maine Department of Education runs through the end of June, 2006, with the possibility of additional extensions.
Previously, Apple’s biggest deal for iBooks came last May when the new, redesigned iBooks were first introduced. On that day, Apple announced that 23,000 iBooks would be provided to the state of Virginia’s Henrico County.