BusinessWeek Online’s Charles Haddad takes a look at Apple’s strategy for the educational market in a new Byte of the Apple column entitled
Apple’s Classroom Counterattack.
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In the analysis piece, Haddad likens Apple’s efforts to Waterloo, the site of the epic 19th century Belgian confrontation between Napoleon and Wellington. Whether Jobs will be Napoleon or Wellington remains to be seen, posited Haddad. With more than a quarter of Apple’s sales relating to education, however, “this is a battle Apple can’t afford to lose,” he said.
Apple still holds a larger share of the education market than any other computer maker, noted Haddad, who said Apple-branded computers make up 50 percent of the systems installed in schools. PC makers are eroding that share, though, with Dell making a concerted effort to eat into Apple’s established presence.
“If the trend continues, PCs will inevitably overtake Apple in the installed base. Luckily, schools never throw anything out. Some are even still using the original computers that Apple sold in the late 1970s,” said Haddad.
Despite setbacks and resistant administrators, Haddad said that Apple is making a concerted effort to make sure it stays relevant to schools. It’s cut the price of 15″ CRT iMacs to $600 and last week it also introduced the eMac, which Apple said is designed specifically to respond to the request of educators.
“Price is only half the battle. Apple needs to keep the Mac as important to educators as chalk and blackboards. And it’s here that Apple really excels,” said Haddad. He’s referring to PowerSchool, wireless networking and other efforts that Apple is making to extend the usefulness of Macs beyond just as workstations for students to learn with.
“Playing for the heart — and not just the wallet — should help Apple repel Dell’s assault. Otherwise, the schools where Apple once dominated the battlefield, could emerge as the scene of Field Marshal Jobs’ greatest and most crushing defeat,” said Haddad.