Cheryl Vedoe, Apple’s vice president for education products and marketing, said the company is poised for a comeback because, despite its setbacks, “we’re are still widely regarded by K-12 educators as the ‘thought leader’ in terms of educational technology,” according to an Education Week article.
A key part of Apple’s renewed focus on education is the recently introduced eMac, a system currently offered only to education customers. Apple is trying to reverse a steady decline in its share of the U.S. school market as Dell and a variety of Wintel systems try to horn in on the market niche that Apple has traditionally held — and still does.
“Apple’s been in recovery mode, seeing Dell and Toshiba and Compaq create new products and build a strong brand,” said Jim McVety, a senior analyst at Eduventures Inc., a Boston market research firm. “It has [Apple] scrambling.”
For some good ammo on the Macs verses Wintel debate, check out Mac consultant John Droz’ Web site called ” Should Our Schools — or Anybody Else — Have Macs or PCs? ” Droz said that the site offers “overwhelming” evidence that everyone associated with a school system will benefit “significantly” more from standardizing on Macs.
And though it actually makes little sense, “standardization of platform” is a huge issue for schools. Keith R. Krueger, the executive director of the Washington-based Consortium for School Networking, said, “obviously, when you’re looking at [total cost of ownership], standardization has been a major thrust in the corporate environment.”
Making the same choice as corporations, which generally have made Windows their standard desktop machine except in specialties involving design and graphics, has seemed a safe bet to many school districts, added Gary Beach, the publisher of CIO Magazine, a publication for information-technology professionals.
“There’s a lot of Apple Macintosh loyalists in education,” he said. “But it’s not a question of heart, but of wallet.”
However, Mark A. Edwards, the superintendent of Virginia’s 42,000-student Henrico County district, which bought 11,000 iBooks, said that “the platform debate is for a generation of yesterday.
“The viability of utilization of information is where the real energy is,” Edwards said, adding that he believes that advances in technology will soon make access to the Web far more important than the choice of operating system. “The key is that students in the U.S. and the world are going to have the opportunity of having access to information and being able to use it at a level that’s beyond anything possible just a few years ago.”
Meanwhile, other school technology officials are looking at a purchasing strategy that districts could adopt to avoid costs of using both operating systems. The Plano, Texas, district, with 49,700 students and 25,000 computers, includes in all purchases — of both Wintel and Macintoshes — a five-year extended warranty that has the vendor provide all outside support, on a strictly enforced timetable, James Hirsch, the district’s assistant superintendent for technology, said. This approach lets Plano keep using Macs for the tasks those machines do best, he said, such as graphics and design software, while incurring no additional support costs, the article adds.